Opera Scotland

Clemency

Music

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

Text

Michael Symmons Roberts

Souce

Biblical (Genesis Chapter 18)

 

Premières

First Performance: London (Linbury Studio Theatre), 7 May 2011.

First Performance in UK: As above.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 31 August 2012.

Scottish Opera première: As above.

 

Background

Clemency is a short stage work (roughly 50 minutes) commissioned jointly by the Royal Opera, Scottish Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Britten Sinfonia. That last group provided the string ensemble that accompanied the five singers for the work's première in the studio theatre at  Covent Garden. The plot is derived from a still relevant biblical debate whereby the good are punished along with the evil - in this case, the destruction by God of Sodom and Gomorrah permitting few survivors.

 

Characters

Abraham (baritone)

Sarah, his wife (soprano)

Three triplets (2 tenors, 1 baritone)

 

Plot Summary

Three men, representing God, appear before Abraham and tell him that his wife Sarah will bear him a son. Since she is ninety and her husband 100 years old, this is regarded as a strange prophecy. After the men have been given a meal, they leave for their next task, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham challenges the idea that good people should be killed as collateral damage in the destruction of the wicked. It is eventually agreed that his nephew, Lot, and his immediate family may be saved.

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