Earnest, The Importance Of Being

  • 2008
  • 120'

A full length operetta in two acts based on the play The Importance Of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde.
Libretto: Eugene Benson.
Premiere: Toronto Operetta Theatre, February 22, 23, 24, 2008.
Jeffrey Huard, conductor.
Guillermo Silva-Marin, director and producer.


LADY BRACKNELL. (Low Mezzo) A most formidable lady, and in her early fifties.
GWENDOLEN. (High Mezzo) About 23, Lady Bracknell’s daughter
CECILY. (Coloratura Soprano) About 18, Jack’s ward.
JACK. (Baritone) Aged 29, a bachelor and wealthy man-about-town.
ALGERNON, (Tenor) Aged 26, a bachelor and wealthy man-about-town.
MISS PRISM. (older Lyric Soprano). Cecily’s governess.
THE REVEREND DR. CHASUBLE. (Baritone) An Anglican clergyman.
LANE. (Bass Baritone) Man servant to Algernon.
MERRYMAN. (Baritone) Butler to Jack.


Based on Oscar Wilde’s famous comedy, first performed in 1895. The plot concerns two young men – John (Jack) Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who woo two young ladies, Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew.
Jack, who lives in the country, has invented a younger brother Ernest, whose misadventures give Jack an excuse to escape to the pleasures of London. Algernon, living in the City, has invented an invalid friend “Bunbury” whose frequent illnesses allow Algernon to escape to the country in search of pleasure. Both young men use the name “Ernest” in their romantic pursuits.  Gwendolen accepts Jack’s proposal of marriage because she has always felt she was fated to marry someone called Ernest and Cecily accepts Algernon because she too had always determined that she would marry someone by the name of Ernest.
These affairs of the heart are further complicated when Gwendolen’s mother, the formidable Lady Bracknell, interrogates Jack, her prospective son-in-law, only to discover that he was born, parentless,in a handbag!  She refuses to consent to the marriage as she later refuses to allow Algernon, her nephew, to marry Cecily.  The impasse is solved to great comic effect when Lady Bracknell interrogates Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess, and discovers that Jack is, in fact, Algernon’s long lost brother and her nephew.  All ends well–as all operettas should.

Piano vocal score for sale, script for sale. (Orchestra score and parts for rent.)
Instrumentation: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Percussion, Keyboard (piano=synth) Strings

“…furthers the playrwight’s comic intent in a highly entertaining and original manner……delights both the ear and the eye in this impressive world premiere….. Longo’s final ballad “Who Am I” transports the general parodic overtones of the show into a satisfying and sentimental finale….Benson and Davies have managed to successfully combine both the serious and the trivial ……add a fresh new layer to a perfect old romantic comedy.”
David Bateman – Theatre Review (Xtra)

“Composer Victor Davies and librettist Eugene Benson have taken Oscar Wilde’s witty play, “The Importance of Being Earnest”, and have produced an operetta that harks back to the glory days of the musical form and provides a delightful diversion. Benson has excised a large number of lines from Wilde’s play in order to produce a libretto of manageable size but he has left the outline of the play pretty much intact. He adds his own lyrics for the songs and Davies provides the music which ranges from beautiful melodies, to recitatives to ensemble pieces that add up to a first rate work.” James Karas – Greek Press

“..first rate… Left its audience….both startled and delighted. … I have no doubt…Earnest will be produced all over the country, and perhaps the continent and beyond. …it is good entertainment of considerable charm….quite a lively, exhilarating affair…” Ken Winters – The Globe and Mail

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