THE BEAR
William Walton


an extravaganza in one act
composer: William Walton (1902 - 1983)
libretto: Paul Dehn after Anton Chekhov
first performance: Aldeburgh, 1967
conductor: Kenneth Montgomery
direction: Carl van der Plas
costume design: Fer Smidt
company: Koninklijk Conservatorium
premiere: Kees van Baarenzaal, Den Haag 10th December 1992 


characters :
Popova, the young widow of the landowner - Susan Glandzberg
Smirnov, the landowner - Romain Bischoff
Luka, Popova's servant - Rene Swankhuizen

Plot: In the Russian provinces Madame Popova, a young widow, persists in mourning her husband - already dead over a year - by way of proving her devotion (although he had been an unrestrained philanderer). She will not go out, and sees no one. In to this rarefied existence explodes unpaid creditor, Smirnoff, insistent that the husband's debt should be paid by the widow. Having no ready cash, she is in no position to pay; he, at the end of his tether, refuses to leave until paid. The hostilities become personal, insults are exchanged and in an access of outraged temper they prepare to fight a duel. At which point the creditor realizes that he has fallen passionately in love with the widow, and her anger finally melts as she finds she loves him, too.