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date: 18 January 2020

English Cat, Thelocked

  • Andrew Clements

Extract

A story for singers and instrumentalists in two acts by Hans Werner Henze to a text by Edward Bond after Honoré de Balzac’s Peines de coeur d’une chatte anglaise; Schwetzingen, 2 June 1983 (in German translation).

Henze’s third collaboration with Bond after We Come to the River (1976) and the full-length ballet Orpheus (1979) was the result of a joint commission from the Schwetzingen Festival and the Wurttemberg Staststheater. In 1977 Henze had seen in Paris a stage version of Balzac’s epistolary tale Peines de coeur d’une chatte anglaise and quickly perceived its operatic possibilities. He put the idea to Bond who produced his own version of the text, transferring the action to 1890s London and giving it a Brechtian satirical edge, evidently envisaging it as a ballad opera with spoken dialogue and independent musical numbers. The libretto was completed in 1979, and Henze worked on the music from ...

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