Cleopatra

for Soprano and Orchestra

Iain Hamilton

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Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

This work was commissioned by the Cheltenham International Festival of Music with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. It received its world premiere at Cheltenham in July, 1978. It is scored for an orchestra of double woodwind, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, percussion, harp and strings and was complete in New York earlier the same year.

The text, by the composer, is in the form of a long operatic scena including arias and orchestral interludes. It deals of the time when Antony has apparently abandoned Cleopatra: after their first idyllic winter in Alexandria he has returned to Rome and married Octavia. We find Cleopatra walking in the gardens of her palace at dusk. After a great outburst of rage she calms down and in an aria ? O look out to the sea ? she expresses her great love for Antony. These feelings are developed in an interlude.

She reflects on her son Caesarion, by Caesar, and feels that through him she may eventually gain the world empire which she and Caesar had planned before his assassination. However, despair returns when she realizes that such things cannot be without a Caesar or an Antony.

Suddenly she feels a strange presence and as Pharos flashes in the night a dark procession of her ancestors passes through the Lochias palace warning her to beware Antony and Rome. They remind her of the bewitching powers through which she could lure antonym back to her and help them regain the greatness which is Egypt?s destiny.

Pharos dims and during a second interlude the day breaks. As the sun glistens on the morning sea Cleopatra feels a renewed strength. Antony will return, they will reign together, and she will live again.

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Cheltenham international Festival of Music with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain.
Composition Date 1978
Duration 00:21:00
Orchestration Solo Sop.; 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 3 0; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere July 16th, 1978. Lois McDonall, soprano, BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Atherton, Cheltenham Festival, England.