Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
BBC Philharmonic / James MacMillan
The Sacrifice is my second opera, written for WNO and premiered in 2007. It is based on one of the Mabinogian stories, a collection of ancient Welsh myths. It is a tale of love set amidst a civil or clannish strife, and culminates in a supreme act of self-sacrifice which eventually heals the communal hatred and brings peace and renewed hope. In its first production the action was placed in the near future, rather than a mythic past.
There are a number of orchestral interludes which connect the scenes in a seamless flow in each of the three acts. Three are extracted here to make a concert suite.
1) The Parting
After a final secret assignation, the two lovers, Sian and Evan split apart, before the wedding that will bring the two tribes together. It has been arranged that Sian will marry Mal, the leader of the other side. Both are heartbroken, but are committed to doing their duty to seal the truce.
Guests from the two warring groups gather together for the marriage feast. It will end in violence.
3) The Investiture
Seven years later another attempt is made to bring the two communities together. Gwyn, the young son of Sian and Mal, is to be "crowned" as a symbol of a desired unity. The crowds gather during this music. The scene will end in the murder of the boy, by Evan.
© James MacMillan 2008
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer