Opera Scotland

Inés de Castro

Music

James MacMillan (born Kilwinning, Ayrshire, 16 July, 1959).

Text

Jo Clifford

Source

Drama Inés de Castro (1989) by Jo Clifford.

 

Premieres

First performance: Edinburgh (Festival Theatre), 23 August 1996.

First performance (revision): Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 22 January 2015.

First UK performance: As above.

First performance in Scotland: As above.

Scottish Opera premiere: As above.

 

Background

The first full-length opera by James MacMillan was keenly awaited, and Jo Clifford's source drama, premiered a few years earlier at the Traverse in Edinburgh, was an excellent, meaty subject. It was entirely appropriate that the composer should decide to dedicate this opera to the memory of Sir Alexander Gibson, without whose driving force the musical and operatic scene in Scotland could not possibly have developed as it did. The opera is located in Portugal in the fourteenth century, at a time of near-constant war with Spain. Inés is the Spanish mistress of the Portuguese Crown Prince, and an immediate source of political and religious tension. During Pedro's absence at war, Inés is murdered, and Pedro takes his revenge on his return.

 

Main Characters

Inés de Castro (soprano)

Nurse to Inés (mezzo-soprano)

King of Portugal (bass)

Crown Prince Pedro, his son (tenor)

Blanca, Pedro's wife (soprano)

Pacheco, adviser to the King (baritone)

Executioner (baritone)

 

Plot Summary

In the tense situation that exists between Portugal and Spain, Inés is not trusted by the Portuguese. She and her nurse remember their former life in Spain, and the nurse is worried about the future of the relationship between Inés and Pedro. Pacheco tries to persuade the King to take decisive action against Inés, but she appeals to the King to protect her and her children. Blanca, herself childless, is furiously jealous of the position held by Inés. While the King is persuaded by Pedro to let him meet Inés, Pacheco and Blanca become increasingly angry. Pacheco plots to have Pedro sent to battle, the assumption being that the Portuguese forces are doomed. The King, outmaneouvred by Pacheco, agrees to the  decision. When Pedro is away at the war, Inés returns to Portugal in disguise. But she is discovered, and after her two children have been killed by Pacheco, she is, herself, taken away to execution. Against all prior expectations, Pedro's Portuguese forces return in triumph. He rails at his father for allowing his mistress and children to be killed. The King has been failing for some time, and now dies. At the celebration before Pedro's coronation, the new King takes his revenge on Pacheco, whose execution is described in extreme detail. At the coronation, Pedro has the skeleton of Inés enthroned so that the people can pay their respects.

The Cast

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