Mademoiselle Fifi
Chamber Opera in 2 Acts ( 1983)
by Ron Hannah

Duration: about 60 minutes

    Here is a short opera based upon the short story of the same name by Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893). It was adapted by my librettist, Rowland Holt-Wilson, who sadly died in 2002,

 Download Rachel's Song 

and one of the main singing roles was written for Andrea Mellis, Rowland's partner.* He and I have also collaborated on Hypatia, a play with songs.

    Mademoiselle Fifi has all the required operatic elements: sex, murder, conspiracy and interesting music in my style of freely tonal approachable dissonance. To get an idea of what that style sounds like, please feel free to download Rachel's song by clicking on the button above. The work is for 10 singers (with an 11th silent role) and an orchestra of 21 players:

    1 flute           3 first violins       2 sopranos
    1 oboe            3 second violins      2 mezzo-sopranos
    1 clarinet        3 violas              2 tenors
    1 french horn     3 celli               3 baritones
    1 timpanist       2 contrabassi         1 bass-baritone
    2 percussionists                        1 non-singing
    It requires a single set, made to look like a room in a grand house in France in the 19th century, which has fallen somewhat into ruin. The story concerns Prussian officers who are occupying the chateau during the Franco-Prussian war. They invite some local ladies of easy virtue to dinner. One of the girls, Rachel, whose father has just been executed by the Prussians, has the misfortune to be paired with Lt. Eyrick ("Mademoiselle Fifi", a nickname which he intensely dislikes). He is a sadistic character who goads her mercilessly until she can take no more, and she stabs him. A nice sub-plot is the plight of the local priest who hides her in the bell tower after the murder.

    Mademoiselle Fifi awaits performance. The score and parts may be obtained by sending me an email, below, or they may be rented from the Canadian Music Centre.

* Rowland and Andrea had been good friends to me over the years, and in 2013 Andrea and I were married.