Robert Manno Home “...a composer of serious music of considerable depth and spiritual beauty”—Atlanta Audio Society
Do Not Go Gentle
Do Not Go Gentle

Prospectus for An Opera by Robert Manno
based upon the lives of Dylan Thomas and Caitlin Thomas

Why Dylan Thomas and Caitlin Thomas as the subjects of an opera?

The answer is very simple. Dylan and Caitlin Thomas' documented life together is replete with all the necessary ingredients for great theatre: Poetry, Love, Comedy, Sex, Infidelity, Jealousy, Violence, and Death; to name just a few.

Dylan Thomas' short, tragic life with his wife Caitlin Thomas was supremely “operatic” in every respect, and it has been thoroughly documented in many biographies and through many eyewitness accounts. The actual scenes from their life together require no additional dramatization or embellishment. They are tailor made for the stage and for a very strong musical treatment.

By today's standards, both Dylan and Caitlin would likely be considered “alcoholics”. This coupled with their many extra-marital affairs and indifference to monetary concerns led to many violent scenes and outrageous behavior, especially on the part of Caitlin, a wild, untamed provocateur.

Dylan Thomas was an extraordinarily gentle man with no sense of malice, a childlike presence who needed to be mothered, pampered and spoiled. He never owned a car and could not deal with monetary affairs. He had an extraordinary comic sense and loved the company of ordinary people, especially if there was drink at hand.

He was one of the foremost poets of the 20th Century, and his incredible poetry is full of music and song. To have heard him read his own poetry and prose, as well as the poetry of others, was an unforgettable experience. He truly sang the words and reveled in the love of the sound of words. Fortunately there are many recordings of Thomas reading.

There is so much extraordinarily stage-worthy material in these two lives, that it becomes more a question of what to leave out rather than what to put in to the dramatization.

The choice has been made to limit the time period to 1953, which is the last year of Thomas' life. Many of the scenes in the opera (all taken from real life), which might have occurred a few years earlier, will be telescoped into this one period. Most of the actual dialogue would be taken from letters, writings and eyewitness accounts found in various biographies. The story can be told almost entirely through Dylan and Caitlin's own words.

The opera is projected to have a Short Prologue, 2 Long Acts and a Short Epilogue.

Act One would take place in Laugharne, a beautiful, quaint sea-coast village in Southwest Wales where Thomas lived for most of his adult life.

Act Two would take place in New York City, on board ship to Wales and ending in Laugharne.

Main Characters:

Dylan Thomas, baritone (39)
Caitlin Thomas, soprano (40)
John Malcolm Brinnin, tenor (37)
Elizabeth (’Liz) Reitell, mezzo-soprano (28)

Supporting Cast:

Llewelyn (“Welly”) Thomas, boy soprano age 13-14, Dylan and Caitlin's son
Aeronwy Thomas, soprano age 10, Dylan and Caitlin's daughter
Colm Thomas, spoken role, age 4, Dylan and Caitlin's son
Phillip Richards, tenor, age 38, drinking friend of Dylan
Howard Dark, tenor, age 35, drinking friend of Dylan
Richard Hughes, bass, age 40, drinking friend of Dylan
Ebie Williams, spoken role, age 50, proprietor of Brown's Hotel
Ivy Williams, spoken role, age 50, proprietor of Brown's Hotel
Pearl Kazin, mezzo-soprano, age 35, Dylan's mistress
Arthur Miller, bass-baritone, age 38
Marilyn Monroe, soprano, age 27
Shelley Winters, mezzo-soprano, age 31
Charlie Chaplin, tenor, age 64
Oona Chaplin, soprano, age 40
E.E. Cummings, spoken role, age 59
Marlene Dietrich, spoken role, age 52
Lotte Lenya, spoken role, age 55
Greta Garbo, spoken role, age 48
Katherine Hepburn, spoken role, age 46
John Berryman, baritone, age 39, poet
David Slivka, baritone, age 39, sculptor and Dylan's friend
Dr. Milton Feltenstein, bass, age 48, Dylan's personal physician
Dr. William McVeigh, tenor, age 28, Resident at St. Vincent's Hospital
Dr. Jerry Turnbull, tenor, age 29, Resident at St. Vincent's Hospital
Dr. Will Mahoney, baritone, age 50, Head Physician, St. Vincent's Hospital
Ship's Captain, spoken role, age 45

Choruses of from 24 to 64 singers (SATB):

     Patrons of Browns Hotel, (32)
     Audience Members at Poetry Reading, (64)
     Party-Goers, (24)
     Patrons of the White Horse Tavern, (24)
     Hangers-On at St. Vincent's Hospital (24)

Running Time:
Act One: 75 min.
Intermission: 25 min.
Act Two: 90 min.
Total: 3 hrs.10 min