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*Deutsch

Bantock, Granville

The Seal Woman (1924)

Duration: 113 minutes
A Celtic Folk Opera in two acts

Libretto by the composer and Marjorie Kennedy Fraser (E)

Scoring
2S,2M,2A,T,Bar,2B,child mime fl.corA.cl-hn-timp-harp-strings.
Abbreviations (PDF).


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



World Premiere
9/27/1924
Birmingham
Company: Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Roles

THE CAILLEACH, an old CroneContralto
THE SEAL-WOMANMezzo Soprano
THE SEAL-SISTERSoprano
THE ISLESMANTenor
FIRST FISHERBaritone
SECOND FISHERBass
THE WATER-KELPIEBass
MORAG, child of the Seal-WomanSilent role
THREE SWAN MAIDENSSoprano, Mezzo Soprano, Contralto


Time and Place
An uninhabited islet in the Western Isles of the Scottish Hebrides


Synopsis

An old crone or 'Cailleach' sings of local legends of seals that turn into mortal women. The voices of a Seal-Woman and her Seal-Sister are heard. Fishermen approach the island. The Isleman recalls a Seal-Woman he has seen before, and when she and her sister appear he keeps hold of their sea-robes – without which they cannot reassume their marine form – and will only return those of the sister. He declares his love for the Seal-Woman, and she agrees to go with him. Seven years later, the Seal-Woman has borne his child, Morag. The Cailleach visits them, and while she sleeps three prophetic swans arrive and predict that the Seal-Woman will be free only when her daughter discovers the sea-robe hidden in a peat stack. Morag finds it and brings it to her mother. As the Isleman returns he watches as his wife flings herself from the cliff into the sea. He and his daughter listen to the Seal-Woman singing as she swims away.


Moods
Poetic, Romantic, Tragic


Subjects
Environment, Magic/Mystery, Mythology, Relationships, Literary





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