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Unmasking Jack the Ripper
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The Times (London).
23 June 1960

From and article entitled "Phyllis Tate's Opera: Psychology and Murder in the 1880s."

The Lodger, which is based upon Mrs. Bellow-Lowndes's novel about Jack the Ripper, has occupied Phyllis Tate for three years. Her original synopsis was made into a libretto by Mr. David Franklin. "His great experience as a singer at Glyndebourne and Covent Garden," she told me, "has been of enormous help to me. The planning of the work took more time than the actual composing. The first scene took eight hours in our original version, but we managed to whittle it down so that the whole opera lasts a mere two and a quarter hours now."

Naturally her friends have been concerned about the "sordidness" of the story, but despite the perennial interest of Jack the Ripper's identity - and she ran expertly through the considerable body of theory - the opera takes as its principal character the landlady who comes to realize that the quiet, gentlemanly lodger who saved her and her husband from destitution is an atrocious murderer. The lodger himself - his religious and sexual mania luridly expressed in words from Revelation xvii - is a figure we are meant to pity, but it is the conflict in the landlady's mind - shall she hand over a mentally sick man to the law? - that, together with what the composer calls "the sinister element", provides the core of the opera.