Brettingham Smith, Jolyon
The Death of Cuchulain (1975)
Opera in one act
Libretto after WB Yeats; German translation by Ursula Clemen (G,E)
S,A/M,T,Bar,2speaking roles,dancer; mixed chorus; 1.afl.1.corA.1.bcl.2(II=dbn)-18.104.22.168-harp-cel-hpcd-perc(4)-strings
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
|AOIFE||Alto / Mezzo soprano|
|OLD MAN||Speaking role|
|A MESSENGER||Speaking role|
Time and Place
A wooded place, evening; the cliffs at the edge of the world
Cuchulain is driven to fight the belligerent Amazon queen Maeve by his lover Eithne. Too late Eithne realizes that she has been manipulated by Maeve, and that she should have warned Cuchulain against attacking too quickly. But now Cuchulain does not believe her anymore. He suspects that she wants to sacrifice him in favour of a younger man. Thirsting for death, he goes into the battle from which he returns badly wounded. The Scottish queen Aoife appears as the goddess of revenge and announces his imminent death. Having formerly been overpowered by him, she had to grant him three wishes and to spend one night with him. She bore him a son, whom Cuchulain killed in a fight without recognizing him. A blind beggar appears. He was a witness of the deed. Paid blood money of 12 pfennigs by Cuchulain’s enemies, he kills the defenceless man.
"In the course of that last ‘quest for harmony, for the unity of being’, Yeats for the last time makes ironic, ‘mocking’ use of those archetypal figures – hero, whore, Amazon, fool – who had occupied him for his whole life and who are ever recurring in his plays."
Jolyon Brettingham Smith
History, Relationships, Religion, Politics, Literary