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Stuart MacRae

Publisher: Novello & Co

Remembrance Day (2008)
Commissioned by Scottish Opera as part of Five:15 Operas Made in Scotland, February 2009. Sponsored by Accenture. With major support from the Binks Trust, The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust and Oran Mor.
Text Writer
Libretto (English) by Louise Welsh
Novello & Co Ltd
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
16 Minutes
Baritone, Contralto, Soprano
Programme Note
Stuart MacRae Remembrance Day (2008)

Douglas Grieve – Baritone
Frances Grieve – Contralto
Lyn – Soprano


Seventeen year-old Lyn is saving for university by cleaning the house of two elderly neighbours, Douglas and Frances Grieve. Lyn is full of excitement at her future, and a little disgusted at the decrepitude of the Grieves' house. She is impatient to get away. When her iPod stops working, she decides to play an old record, but the music rekindles the elderly couple's past, unleashing horrific consequences.

Score preview:

Vocal score

Poignant, farcical and grotesque, Remembrance Day is a minor masterpiece, full of moods and murmurs and post-Bergian mosaics. In Louise Welsh, MacRae has found a librettist whose imagaination is as practical as it is theatrical. Around her words he has woven a music of shimmers and shadows, all the more expressive for being economical. What’s so remarkable about Remembrance Day is that you’re not aware of technique or the passing of time.
Andrew Clark, Opera,01/05/2009
And so to the most successful offering of the night, Remembrance Day [...] approached with darkly mischievous glee by the composer Stuart MacRae, there are some delightful moments of musical play, as MacRae interleaves the cleaner's tuneless humming or the strains fo an old LP over the relentless orchestral score.
Sarah Urwin Jones, The Times,25/02/2009
…Stuart MacRae's experience in opera shows in Remembrance Day, a macabre little shocker. Dean Robinson's grisly old man and Mary O'Sullivan's naive teenager project the lyricism of MacRae's music.
Lynne Walker, The Independent,25/02/2009
The student cleaner dreams of the future while dusting an old couple’s home. She sees them as decrepit – but no sooner has she chanced on their macabre past than she becomes their latest victim. Poignant, farcical and grotesque, Stuart MacRae’s Remembrance Day is a masterpiece in embryo, full of moods and murmurs and post-Bergian mosaics. It is one of two runaway successes at Five:15, an evening of short operas pairing established writers and composers.... In Louise Welsh he has found a librettist whose imagination is as practical as it is theatrical. Around her words he weaves a music of shimmers and shadows, economical and expressive. What’s so remarkable about Remembrance Day is that you’re not aware of technique or the passing of time.
Andrew Clark, Financial Times,24/02/2009
...And the masterpiece? Conducted skilfully, as were all the operas, by Derek Clark, and played intensely by the Opera orchestra ensemble, Remembrance Day, by Louise Welsh and Stuart MacRae, is a horrific drama, on a line somewhere between Bluebeard's Castle and Silence of the Lambs (the Buffalo Bill strand). How do you know when the complex drama of Welsh's needlepoint words and MacRae's economic but molten music is working? When you sit bolt upright, mentally screaming, as I did, at soprano Mary O'Sullivan (Lyn): "Do not open that book. Get out of there now. Get out. Run!"
Michael Tumelty, The Herald (Glasgow),23/02/2009
...It was the final work, Remembrance Day by composer Stuart MacRae, that really seemed to crack the code. Paralleling the dreams of a young student and the memories of an old man and his wife, the work encompassed the comedy of youthful isunderstanding, as well as the erotic horror of devotion. A strong libretto by Louise Welsh certainly helped, as did the haunting innocence of bass Dean Robinson....
Carla Whalen, The Scotsman,23/02/2009
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