Opera Scotland

Letters of a Love Betrayed

Music
Eleanor Alberga (born Kingston, Jamaica)

Text
Donald Sturrock.

Source
Short story Cartas de amor traicionado from Tales of Eva Luna (1989) by Isabel Allende.

Premières
First performance: London (Linbury Studio), 2 October 2009.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Traverse Theatre), 17 November 2009.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Alberga’s musical development has been influenced by her involvement with Jamaican folk music and her period as Music Director of London Contemporary Dance Theatre. Although the text lacks an effective structure, and is therefore not ideally paced, Letters of a Love Betrayed is an immediately attractive first attempt at opera composition, with music beautifully composed for a chamber ensemble of fourteen players, a similar group to the band Britten used for several of his works such as The Turn of the Screw. There is plenty of atmospheric scoring, with unusual and interesting effects, especially on percussion, where appropriate Latin-American rhythms are much in evidence. The germ of the plot is slightly reminiscent of a short story by Thomas Hardy, surely an excellent model, though Hardy is better able to resist any suggestion of a happy ending.

Main Characters
Analía Torres (soprano)
Eugenio Torres, her uncle (bass-baritone)
Priest (bass)
Mother Superior (mezzo-soprano)
Luis Torres, Eugenio’s son (tenor)
Gloria Cardenes, a whore (mezzo-soprano)
Camino Torres, son to Analia and Luis (treble)
José Lopez, a schoolmaster (tenor)

Plot Summary
Analía has been sent to a convent school following the death of her parents. She has been brought up by the nuns in a kindly fashion, but has been largely ignored by her surviving family, and lives in a world of her own imagination. Her uncle is administrator of her property, but wishes to gain more permanent control of the estate. However she refuses his request to sign the land over, and announces that she intends to marry and run the estate herself. Eugenio decides that his son should marry Analía, to which end the son, a dissolute wastrel, is required to court her by post. On the basis of these letters, full of character, Analía falls in love and marries him, but quickly discovers this is a disaster. Again she withdraws from the world, taking interest only in her young son. Luis is eventually killed in a bar room brawl. It is only afterwards that she discovers the letters were written on his instructions by his old schoolmaster. This leads to the prospect of a happy ending.

The Cast

Analía Torres
 
Camino
 son of Analía and Luis
El Chofer Loco
 
Eugenio Torres
 Analia's uncle
Gloria Cardenes
 a whore
José Lopez
 a schoolmaster
Luis Torres
 Eugenio's son
Mother Superior
 
Priest
 

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