Usher House


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Usher House
  • Opera in one act
  • Piano reduction available
  • Can be performed as the "Scare Pair" with The Canterville Ghost
  • Libretto by the composer, based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Duration: 1 hour 

Edgar Allan Poe — Tenor
Roderick Usher — Baritone
Madeline Usher — Soprano
Doctor Primus — Bass
Madeline as a child — Soprano
Roderick as a child — Soprano
Attendant — Baritone
Ancestors — DancersMusicians — Actors: Non-speaking

Bassoon, doubling Contrabassoon
2 Horns in F
Trumpet in C
Tenor Trombone
Bass Trombone
Percussion, 2 Players: (Slapstick – one-handed, Anvil, Thunder Sheet, Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Tubular Bells, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Vibraphone – motor off, Marimba)
Sampler Keyboard, 1 Player (Celesta, Harpsicord, Piano)

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Photo: Scene from Usher House, San Francisco Opera

Recording the Album

Gulbenkian Orchestra with Lawrence Foster, conductor; Etienne Dupuis, baritone; Christian Elsner, tenor; Phillip Ens, bass; Lisa Delan, soprano; Benedict Cumberbatch, actor


See review archive

“I found both Getty’s libretto and music to be effective in presenting an augmented version of Poe’s tale. It worked well that the character of Madeline Usher, Roderick’s sister who was entombed a few days too early, was assigned to a dancer (Jamielyn Duggan), with Madeline’s voice sung by Illinois soprano Jacqueline Piccolino.”

OperaWarhorses, 2015

“Usher House is [Getty’s] treatment of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, and it is a more edgy work. Poe is introduced into the drama in the role of narrator telling the story. Getty has made other adjustments…He actually makes the Ushers more appealing and likeable than they are in Poe (or in Glass’s opera), and the horror of the ending is all the more dramatic because we have been attracted to them. The music is darker than [Getty’s] Plump Jack, as is appropriate for the story. One hears echoes of Bartók, Debussy, and Mahler in the writing. But the score is not mere copying of others’ music.”

Henry Fogel
Fanfare, January-February 2014

“He is a real composer. His style is proudly tonal, although there are, as he says, ‘hints of atonality, such as any composer would likely use to suggest a degree of disorientation...’ I think Usher House is his most expressive work yet.”

Raymond S. Tuttle
International Record Review, January 2014