Something Old, Something New

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 at 7:30 PM
Friday, March 1, 2024 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 3:00 PM

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 2120 Lincoln Street, Evanston IL 60201

The Chalet

Music by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856)
Libretto by Eugène Scribe and H. J. Mélesville
English Version (Sans Chorus) by Francis L. Lynch
Arranged for flute, clarinet, and piano by Francis L. Lynch

First performed in French in 1834
First performances of this English version

The Boor

Music by Francis L. Lynch (born 1951)
Libretto by the composer, based on the short play by Anton Chekhov

World premiere performances


Click on name for more information

(The Chalet)

(The Chalet)

(The Chalet)

Madam Popov
(The Boor)

(The Boor)

(The Boor)

The Chalet — Synopsis

A young farmer, Daniel, “the handsomest young man of Appenzell,” enters and sings of his love for Bettly. Daniel reads a letter from Bettly which she has written to him, returning his love; Bettly enters and tells of her brother Max who has been absent fighting for fifteen years. It soon becomes clear that Bettly did not write the letter to Daniel (she cannot write) and she mocks him for being taken in by a joke of her friends. Daniel is devastated, having made all the preparations for a marriage including a contract, but Bettly flatly refuses, saying she doesn’t need a husband. In his letter to Bettly, Max urges her to marry and Daniel confesses that he has asked Max to intervene on his behalf.

Daniel hears troops approaching and asks the sergeant into the chalet; Max sings of his happiness of being back in his valley. Daniel tells Max (whom he doesn’t recognize) of his woes and asks to enlist in the army. Bettly enters and Max demands food and wine. Max conceals his identity from his sister, and leads her to believe that she will be at the mercy of the whole regiment for two weeks. Daniel re-enters with an old sword, ready to become a soldier, and from all his papers gives Bettly his will to keep; in a duo she asks him to stay while the soldiers are at the chalet; he agrees and curls up to sleep in a chair.

Max comes in pretending to be a bit drunk and Bettly cries for help. Daniel wakes and after an argument Max challenges him to a duel. As Daniel insists to her that he is prepared for his army life, Bettly, impressed by Daniel’s willingness to fight for her honor, tries to prevent the duel, goes to his bags and finds the marriage certificate which she quickly signs. She whispers to Daniel that this is just a ruse; without her brother’s signature it will not be legal, but Max has crept up and signed the contract, saying that he has tricked them both to force them to be happy together.

The Boor — Synopsis

Since her husband died, Madam Popov has locked herself in the house in mourning. Her footman, Luka, begs Madam Popov to stop mourning and step outside the estate. She refuses, saying that life has been an empty dream since her husband died. She returns to gazing at the portrait of her late husband.

Luka announces that a visitor has arrived and is insisting on seeing her despite her wish to see no one. Grigory S. Smirnov, a landowner who was owed 1,200 rubles by her husband, barges into the drawing room to ask Popov’s widow for repayment of the debt. Madam Popov replies that as it is exactly seven months since her husband died, she is in no mood to think about money. Smirnov protests that if he does not receive payment today, some of his estates will be seized for failure to pay a mortgage due the next day.

Madam Popov is adamant that he will have to wait and Smirnov is enraged. She is offended by his language and leaves. He launches into a misogynistic rant against women and decides that he will not leave until the debt is repaid. His loud raving brings Madam Popov back into the room in indignation, and they argue about true love according to the different genders. Smirnov insists that only men know that true love means suffering and sacrifice, to which Popova laughs bitterly and replies that she wholeheartedly loved her husband even though he cheated on her and disrespected her. She insists that she will remain buried alive in the house in mourning until the day she dies.

Smirnov laughs at this and points out that despite being buried alive she has not forgotten to powder her face. Madam Popov is furious and orders Luka to show Smirnov out, but Smirnov bellows at Luka and terrifies him. A trio ensues, in which Madam Popov asks where are the other servants and Luka explains that they are all out assisting with the harvest, while Smirnov rages about “the imbeciles in this house.” Madam Popov is livid and calls Smirnov a boor.

Smirnov, insulted, calls for a duel, not caring that Madam Popov is a woman. Madam Popov, in turn, enthusiastically agrees and goes off to get a pair of pistols her husband owned. Luka overhears their conversation, gets frightened for his mistress, and runs out to look for a weapon. Meanwhile, Smirnov tells himself how impressed he is by Popov’s audacity and slowly realizes that he has actually fallen in love with her and her dimpled cheeks. When Madam Popov returns with the pistols, she asks Smirnov how they work. After demonstrating their use, Smirnov falls to his knees and makes his love confession. Madam Popov oscillates between refusing him and ordering him to leave and telling him to stay. Eventually, the two get close and embrace each other just as Luka returns.