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Rorem, Ned

Bertha (1968)

Duration: 25 minutes

One act opera


English   Deutsch  

Libretto by Kenneth Koch (E)


Scoring

M,5singers doubling roles; small chorus (optional); pft

Abbreviations (PDF)


Territory

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


World Premiere
26/11/1973
Alice Tully Hall, New York, NY
Beverley Wolff and a cast of ten
Conductor: James Holmes


Roles

BERTHA Mezzo Soprano
NOBLE Medium-High voice
TEACHER Medium-High voice
SCOTCHMAN Medium-High voice
MAN Medium-High voice
BARBARIAN CHIEFTAIN Medium-High voice
COUNSELLOR Low voice
THIRD SCOTCHMAN Low voice
OFFICER Medium voice
SECOND SCOTCHMAN Medium voice
NORWEGIAN CITIZEN Medium voice
COMMON NORWEGIAN SOLDIER Medium voice
OLD MAN Medium-Low voice
SECOND NORWEGIAN CITIZEN Medium-Low voice
MESSENGER High voice
GIRL High voice
Chorus (optional) Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses

Time and Place

Medieval times, in and around the royal residence in Oslo, Norway


Synopsis

The opera depicts the rise, decline, and ultimate triumph of a distinctly looney monarch. As her garrison is surrounded by barbarians, the mad and bloodthirsty Queen Bertha of Oslo directs an attack.  She appears in a ring of white eagles, frightening the barbarians off. A teacher questions her, "Are not the people themselves barbarians?" She has him beheaded and higher learning thereby "disreinstated". Once the country is at peace, the dissatisfied Bertha declares war on Scotland. The Counselor objects to such ceaseless wars, so Bertha dismisses the Council. When young lovers meet in Bertha’s garden they are shot dead – Bertha does not approve of lovers' trysts. As she grows older, her madness increases. She longs for new adventures. Bertha gives Norway to the barbarians in order to reconquer it. She succeeds, but falls dead on her regained throne. All the people hail her as a great queen.


Moods

Comic, Dramatic


Subjects

Politics, Society




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