Trevor Jones - Maria Marten (opera in 2 acts)

Maria Marten (opera in 2 acts)


Mezzo-soprano, baritone, octet of strings and wind

Other Information

This two-act chamber opera tells the true story of an early 19th century young woman who lived in a hamlet in Suffolk and had several affairs. The last of these was with farmer's son William [Bill] Corder. She has had a child who has died after two days, and wishes to give her a Christian burial. Bill won't hear of it and insists the child is buried in a local field to protect his reputation. A fierce argument ensues, and Bill takes his gun and shoots Maria dead, burying her body in a shallow grave in a barn. The barn had a red painted door or roof, and so the legend of Murder at the Red Barn has been attached to the story. Bill's guilt has been called into doubt in reality, with Maria's stepmother having a motive for her murder.

Bill escapes to East London, but is apprehended there and sent to Suffolk for trial where he is sentenced to hang. 

Act 1 is dialogue between Maria and Bill, whilst Act 2 is a monologue with Bill in prison denying his guilt and complaining that he is a respectable farmer's son and Maria was a loose woman. He repents at the last moment before going to the gallows. Maria reappears at the end as a ghost, mourning over her dead child and herself. The unresolved music fades into nothing.

The first performance was given in Stroud by Zarah Hible as Maria and Andrew Mahon as Bill.