A private passioni
 

Welcome to A Private Passion

This is a two act work with many exciting possibilities - conceived on a large emotional scale, yet small enough to be performed with a touring sized company of 16-20. It is equally flexible in both stage setting and orchestration.

A Private Passion traces the 12-year relationship between Charles Dickens as a mature, nationally-famous figure and the young unknown actress Ellen Ternan. In Act 1 it explores their meeting and the conflict between Dickens' public persona and developing his developing love for Ellen, ending with the break-up of Dickens' own marriage. Interwoven within this we learn of Dickens' love for the memory of his wife's dead sister, Mary.

Act 2 takes place 10 years later and charts Ellen's growing frustration with being a virtual prisoner. Dickens' obsessive secrecy is threatened when they and Ellen's mother are involved in a train crash. In the third scene, Dickens asks Ellen to put on Mary's dress, and when she does he loses track of reality. At this point she realises she has to break away from him, and in the final scene she says goodbye as Dickens is about to go onstage for his final public reading before leaving for an American tour.


  • Read a scene-by-scene synopsis. See the cast list. There is also an introduction explaining the composer's thought-process, which includes pictures of Dickens.
  • A presentation video telling the story has been recorded featuring Christopher Dixon as Charles Dickens and Laure Meloy as Ellen Ternan, accompanied by Jeremy Bines.
  • You can hear some additional music as audio only. Some pages of the Vocal Score are also available for study. And you can download Libretto as a 93kb Word file.
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