English, Department of



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The George Eliot Review 30 (1999) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/


The George Eliot Review 2018 (30)


The Tchaikovsky Museum at Klin in Moscow in Russia had, amongst the composer's papers, a manuscript of fragments of a scenario for an opera on the theme of 'Mr. Gilfil 's Love-Story', the second story in Scenes of Clerical Life.

Tchaikovsky modestly mentions this in his biography, stating that at first he proposed an opera based on 'The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton', the first story in Scenes but was drawn instead to another of the stories, 'Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story'. The composer's friend, the music critic G. A. Larosh, mentions in his memoirs that for some weeks before his death Tchaikovsky talked about the theme of a new opera. The previous summer Tchaikovsky had read, in a French translation, Scenes of Clerical Life. He loved George Eliot's novels, starting with The Mill on the Floss in the last years of his life. He particularly appreciated the pathos of 'Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story', which is set in the eighteenth century, and thought the subject was spendidly suitable for adaptation as an opera.

Sadly, nothing came of what might have been something very special.