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Music Text

Libretto by Stephen Plaice (E)


2S,2Bar,2 actors (man+woman)
basset cl-2vln.vla.vlc

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh
Stephen Langridge, dir / Alison Chitty, designer
Conductor: Alan Hacker
Company: Aldeburgh Almeida Opera / Quatuor Diotima


There are only two characters, but they have three representations
WOMAN 1 (also Hera) Actress
WOMAN 2 (also Hera) Soprano
WOMAN 3 (also Io) Soprano
MAN 1 (also Inachus and the Gadfly) Baritone
MAN 2 (also Zeus) Actor
MAN 3 (also Hermes) Baritone
Time and Place

The present, the interior and exterior of an early twentieth-century house


On the site of the forgotten Mysteries of Lerna, the compulsive relationship between a man and a woman reawakens the buried gods. They have scented a sacrifice. Back in the city, the woman clings to her domestic routine, trying to come to terms with the terrible manifestation she experienced with the man in Greece. But neither the gods, nor the man will leave the woman alone, and the civilised veneer of her existence is continually punctured by the returning power of the Mysteries she and the man have disturbed.
Stephen Plaice

Press Quotes

“Stylised staging, images and soundworld only rarely intertwine so well, appearing to grow out of each other, only finding explanation in their relationship… On the left you can see a house from the outside with a street light and a lit window. A man watches the shadowy figure of a woman… On the right the same scene unfolds from the inside…The couple write each other letters, they try in vain to come closer and slide again into their ritualised dreamworld… a fascinating work.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“…vivid, haunting and complex… it is an original fusion of music and drama, though one whose use of repetition, multiple representations and narrative layers clearly connect with Birtwistle’s earlier stage work… the whole thing is a singular achievement…”
The Guardian

“Birtwistle’s haunting, inventive music delves…deeply into the longings and confusion of the estranged lovers… it may be the most lyrical music the composer has written for the stage.”
Chicago Tribune



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