The Fall of the House of Usher (opera)
|The Fall of the House of Usher|
|Studio album by Peter Hammill|
|Released||Nov 1991/Nov 1999|
|Label||Some Bizzare/Fie! Records|
|Peter Hammill chronology|
Hammill and Smith, two of the co-founders of Van der Graaf Generator, worked sporadically on the opera from 1973 until its first recording was released on Some Bizzare Records (the only instance of Hammill's work appearing on the label) in November 1991. The album was available on CD, cassette and a limited edition of 500 double vinyl LPs. The cast of singers was:
- Hammill himself, playing Roderick Usher and the House
- Lene Lovich, playing Madeline Usher
- Andy Bell, playing Montresor
- Sarah Jane Morris, playing the Chorus
- Herbert Grönemeyer, playing the Herbalist
Smith's libretto takes certain liberties with Poe's source text. The House itself becomes a vocal part, to be sung by the same performer who sings the role of Roderick Usher. The narrator, unnamed in the story, is given the name Montresor (the name of the narrator of another tale by Poe, "The Cask of Amontillado"), and a romantic attachment between Montresor and Madeline Usher is hinted at.
In 1999, Hammill regained the rights to the music from Some Bizzare and set about revising the piece. He re-recorded some of his own vocals, although the parts of the other singers were untouched. He also removed the percussion, added more electric guitar and remixed the entire recording. The results were released as The Fall Of The House Of Usher (Deconstructed & Rebuilt) on Hammill's own Fie label in November 1999. Hammill regards this version as the definitive recorded version of the opera.
The opera has never been performed live in its entirety. In the 1980s Hammill performed "The Sleeper" a capella at a Poetry reading festival in Amsterdam, October 1983 and in New York, July 1986. At live concerts in 1991 and 1992 Hammill frequently sang a suite of songs from the opera, officially released on the video/DVD In The Passionskirche.
- "An Unenviable Role"
- "That Must Be The House"
- "One Thing At A Time"
- "I Shun The Light"
- "Leave This House"
- "Chronic Catalepsy"
- "Evil That Is Done"
- "Five Years Ago"
- "It's Over Now"
- "No Rot"
- "She Is Dead"
- "Beating Of The Heart"
- "Haunted Palace"
- "I Dared Not Speak"
- "She Comes Towards The Door/The Fall"
- Peter Hammill – vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion (removed on 1999 recording)
- Stuart Gordon - violin (1999 recording only)
- various singers - see listing above
- Prato, Greg. "The Fall of the House of Usher - Peter Hammill | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- By Appointment. Peter Hammill newsletter, November 1999.