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The Plot To Pilgrims Progress

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Plot

The opera contains a Prologue, four Acts, and an Epilogue.

Prologue: Bunyan in Prison

The opera opens to the chords of the psalm tune 'York'. John Bunyan is in Bedford Gaol, completing his book The Pilgrim's Progress. He stands, faces the audience, and begins to read from the opening of the book. As he does so, a vision of Pilgrim appears, carrying his burden. A curtain falls to conceal Bunyan, and Pilgrim is alone on stage, reading and in a state of lamentation.

Act I

Scene 1: The Pilgrim meets Evangelist

Evangelist directs Pilgrim towards the Wicket Gate. Four neighbors, Pliable, Obstinate, Mistrust and Timorous, appear to warn Pilgrim away from his journey. But Pilgrim dismisses them and continues.

Scene 2: The House Beautiful

Outside of the House Beautiful, Pilgrim "stumbles up to the Cross" and kneels before it. From off-stage, the voices of Three Shining Ones are heard. They then greet Pilgrim and relieve him of his burden. After Pilgrim knocks on the door of the House Beautiful, the Interpreter bids him welcome, as a chorus greets him. The Interpreter marks Pilgrim's forehead in blessing, and after receiving a white robe, Pilgrim enters the House.

Nocturne (Intermezzo)

Watchful, the house porter, prays for the safety of the house's denizens and for them to enjoy the blessings of sleep.

Act II

Scene 1: The Arming of the Pilgrim

The Herald asks who will go forth on the King's highway. Pilgrim volunteers, and a scribe notes his name in a book. Pilgrim then receives "armour of proof", and begins his journey.

Scene 2: The Pilgrim meets Apollyon

In the Valley of Humiliation, a chorus of Doleful Creatures, howling, surrounds Pilgrim as he enters. Apollyon enters and challenges Pilgrim in single combat, but Pilgrim prevails. The fight has exhausted Pilgrim, but two Heavenly Beings, Branch Bearer and Cup Bearer, restore Pilgrim with leaves from the Tree of Life and water from the Water of Life. Evangelist then returns and gives Pilgrim the Staff of Salvation, the Roll of the Word and the Key of Promise. He also warns Pilgrim to take care at town of Vanity.

Act III

Scene 1: Vanity Fair

At the fair in the town of Vanity, "all the pleasures of man" are for sale. Pilgrim enters, and averts his eyes from Vanity Fair as the crowd surrounds him and offers their wares, from Lord Lechery to Madam Bubble and Madam Wanton. The crowd asks what Pilgrim will buy, and he replies: "I buy the truth!" The crowd mocks Pilgrim, who denounces them as followers of Beelzebub. Lord Hate-good then appears, before whom the crowd brings Pilgrim. Witnesses, including Superstition, Envy, Pickthank and Malice, as well as Madam Bubble and Madam Wanton denounce Pilgrim. Lord Hate-good asks for the crowd's verdict, and they demand death. Lord Hate-good orders Pilgrim to be imprisoned.

Scene 2: The Pilgrim in Prison

Pilgrim laments that God has forsaken

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