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date: 02 April 2020

Winter’s Tale, Alocked

  • Steven Ledbetter

Extract

Opera in two acts by John Harbison to his own libretto after William Shakespeare ’s play; San Francisco Opera (American Opera Project), 20 August 1979.

Leontes, King of Sicily (baritone), becomes mistakenly convinced that his queen, Hermione (soprano), has betrayed him with his friend Polixenes, King of Bohemia (baritone). Leontes rejects his newborn daughter as illegitimate and tries Hermione for her supposed infidelity; she is later reported to have died. Meanwhile, in a dumbshow, a Shepherd (bass) finds the abandoned infant and joyfully takes it home. 16 years later the infant, now a beautiful girl, Perdita (soprano), attracts the love of Polixenes’ son Florizel (tenor). Polixenes separates them, but they flee to Leontes, who learns Perdita’s identity; Florizel is reconciled with his father, and the two kings revive their friendship. Leontes regrets the death of Hermione, whom he now believes to have been innocent. Her maid Paulina (mezzo-soprano) leads him to a gallery to see a statue of Hermione; at a word from Paulina, the ‘statue’ comes to life as Hermione herself, and she embraces Leontes....

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