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A Full Moon in March

chamber opera in one act

Music by John Harbison
Libretto by the composer
after the play by W. B. Yeats
About A Full Moon in March

Disappointed with his inability to mount a production of his first opera, Winter's Tale, Harbison composed Full Moon in March as a chamber piece so as to make a performance practical for smaller companies.

Cast of Characters
First Attendant, s The Queen, ms and dancer
Second Attendant, t The Swineherd, bar

Drawn by the queen's promise that the man who sings most eloquently of his passion will win her hand and the king's crown, a swineherd approaches the throne. He is not sure he is worthy to vie for her hand, since he is filthy and ragged from his journey; since he got that way seeking her, the Queen allows him to sing, but warns that she is cruel and that her mercy will not last long. Soon, offended by his self-confidence, she orders him taken away and beheaded. His head is brought to her on a stake, and as she gazes adoringly at it, it begins to sing (through the voice of the Second Attendant.) She kisses the head's lips, just as the Swineherd predicted, and dances with it before sinking down on the stage, clutching the head to her breast.

Last update: January 1, 2009