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Martinu, Bohuslav

What Men Live By (1951-52)

(Cim lide ziji)

Duration: 35 minutes

Opera-pastoral in one act


English   Deutsch  

Libretto by the composer, after the novel by Leo Tolstoy (Cz,E,G,I)


Scoring

S,A,T,Bar,2B,speaker; vocal quartet, quintet or small chorus 1.2.3.2-2.1.1.0-timp.perc:cyms/tgl/SD/tam-t-pft-strings(6.6.4.3.2)

Abbreviations (PDF)


Territory

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


World Premiere
31/07/1954
National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan
Company: National Music Camp


Roles

MARTIN AVDEITCH Baritone
AN OLD PEASANT PILGRIM Bass
STEPANITCH, an old soldier Bass
A WOMAN WITH CHILD Soprano
AN OLD WOMAN Contralto
BOY Spoken role
SPEAKER Tenor

Synopsis

The plot is introduced throughout by a Speaker. The setting is a small town, where the cobbler Martin Avdeitch, a widower whose child has also died, works in a small basement from which he can see the street. He knows most of the passers-by from their shoes, which he has repeatedly mended. One day an old peasant came to him and Martin had told him of his wish to die. The peasant told him to live as Christ has shown us how. He reads the gospel story of Jesus visiting a home unrecognised, and wonders how he would himself receive Christ. He hears a voice announcing a visitor the next day. Early in the morning, he sees Stepanitch, a shabby old soldier, clearing snow outside. Martin invites him in for some tea and to warm himself. The old man is grateful for this act of kindness. After he has gone Martin sees a poorly dressed woman with a child. He invites them in and gives her an old jacket. She weeps and thanks him, then leaves. Lastly he sees a boy trying to steal an apple from an old pedlar woman, who catches him. Martin runs to them and persuades the old woman not to call the police, and the boy to ask pardon. He himself pays for the apple. The boy offers to carry the old woman's sack for her. Gradually evening sets in, and Martin takes down the Bible to read. He becomes aware of figures behind him. They are the people he has helped that day, and at the same time they are Christ. Joy fills Martin's soul.


Moods

Poetic


Subjects

Ethics, History, Literary, Magic/Mystery




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