Clarissa, op. 30
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Even before reading Clarissa in 1968 I'd sensed, simply from knowing about it, this great novel's operatic potential.  Close involvement in its intricate details was daunting:  a plot whose essence can fit onto a postage-stamp evolves into the longest fiction in the English language!  Slowly over the next few years an extensive anthology of promising extracts was shaped into architecture, proportion, pattern;  each new fair copy reduced it be almost half;  and in the end I had a slim, workable libretto. 

I'd tried composing one or two highlights from the start, but the time was not ripe.  When the text was at last ready the music came in a rush:  most of the opera was dashed off in a fortnight over Easter 1976, and the complete draft full-score was done within the same year.  I'll always be grateful to David Pountney for rescuing this uncommissioned Cinderella for production at E.N.O. in 1990;  and to Oliver Knussen, conductor of these performances, who'd understood so readily from my awful play-thru of the sketch in its skeletal state how she would be when fully embodied and clad. 

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