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Rocking Horse Winner

Opera (2016)

Libretto by Anna Chatterton

Music by Gareth Williams

Based on the short story by D.H. Lawrence

Rocking Horse Winner is a 60 minute, one act chamber opera, adapted, with permission from the D.H.Lawrence Estate, from the D.H.Lawrence short story, The Rocking Horse Winner.  The opera was conceived and composed by Gareth Williams, and the libretto was written by Anna Chatterton.

The work was commissioned by Tapestry Opera, and premiered  in Toronto in 2016.  The original production was directed by Michael Hidetoshi Mori and conducted by Jordan de Souza. The production was nominated for nine Dora Mayer Awards, winning five, including Best Opera Production.

The Chamber Opera has also been produced and performed at Saratoga Opera Festival in New York  in 2018, at Opera Louisiane and at Opera Maine, both in 2023, and also remounted in Toronto in 2023. Tapestry Opera released an original cast album recording in 2021.


This modern adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence short story, Rocking Horse Winner explores the relationship between Paul, a young man with developmental challenges, and his emotionally distant mother. Paul becomes dangerously obsessed with solving the “bad luck” of his family in order to win the love of his mother. 

Though obsession and strange magic, he discovers a way to predict the winners of upcoming horse races by riding his own rocking horse, and uses this ability to bring money into their lives, but seemingly the money is ‘never enough’.


“Rocking Horse Winner” is a finely crafted work by a radiant composer who should soon be having the opera world at his call."



"It is the excellence of the production at all levels which is the most dominant characteristic of this show. Gareth Williams's score is so evocative and beautiful, tender when need be, raucous at other times, using a modern language that is never jarring or dissonant."

The Globe and Mail, Toronto



"Gareth Williams's score is breathtaking. I felt like for the first time I was hearing to where opera should be moving."


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