Sir Harrison Birtwistle: The Second Mrs Kong

Sir Harrison Birtwistle The Second Mrs Kong
The Second Mrs Kong

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: The Second Mrs Kong

Year of composition:
1993-1994
Subtitle:
Opera in 2 acts
Composer:
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
Original language:
English
Translator:
Sven Hartberger (18.10.1995)
Librettist:
Russell Hoban (29.09.1993)
Roles:
Kong, tenor Perl, soprano Anubis / Tod von Kong, bass-baritone Vermeer, baritone Spiegel / Spiegel Echo, lyric soprano Inanna (Mrs Dollarama), mezzo-soprano Mr Dollarama, baritone Swami Zumzum, tenore buffo Orpheus, countertenor Madame Lena, alto 4 Modell
Choir:
SATB
Instrumentation:
2 2 2 2 - 4 2 0 2 - perc(4), acc, sax(2), cimb, str(16 0 6 6 4)
Instrumentation details:
1st flute (+alto fl
picc)
2nd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet in Bb (+cl(A)
cl(Eb))
2nd clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb)
bass cl)
1st saxophone (sop.sax(Bb)
alto sax(Eb)
bar.sax(Eb))
2nd saxophone (t.sax(Bb))
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon (+cbsn)
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
1st tuba (+euph)
2nd tuba
accordion
cimbalom
1st percussion
2nd percussion
3rd percussion
4th percussion
1st/2nd violin (desk 1)
3rd/4th violin (desk 2)
5th/6th violin (desk 3)
7th/8th violin (desk 4)
9th/10th violin (desk 5)
11th/12th violin (desk 6)
13th/14th violin (desk 7)
15th/16th violin (desk 8)
1st/2nd viola (desk 1)
3rd/4th viola (desk 2)
5th/6th viola (desk 3)
violoncello (desk 1)
violoncello (desk 2)
violoncello (desk 3)
contrabass (desk 1)
contrabass (desk 2)
Commission:
Commissioned by Glyndebourne Touring Opera
Duration:
120’
More Less

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

After The Mask of Orpheus (1973-1984), Birtwistle returned to the Orpheus myth with The Second Mrs. Kong; but this time, Russell Hoban’s libretto deals with our modern world of computers, television and video, with an American sense of humour which surely justifies the designation “comic opera.” The two main characters – a gigantic ape (complete with excerpts from the original King Kong film of 1933) and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring – are not living beings; they are ideas, and that dooms any personal encounter and possible love relationship before they can begin. Nonetheless, Birtwistle gives the ape and the girl beautiful, lyrical arias, just like Vermeer and Orpheus.

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Special prints

The Second Mrs Kong

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: The Second Mrs Kong

study score
, 120’
Instr.: 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 0 2 - perc(4), acc, sax(2), cimb, str(16 0 6 6 4)

The Second Mrs Kong

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: The Second Mrs Kong

study score
, 120’
Instr.: 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 0 2 - perc(4), acc, sax(2), cimb, str(16 0 6 6 4)

The Second Mrs Kong

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: The Second Mrs Kong

piano reduction
, 120’
Instr.: 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 0 2 - perc(4), acc, sax(2), cimb, str(16 0 6 6 4)

World première

Location:
Glyndebourne
Date:
24.10.1994
Orchestra:
Glyndebourne Touring Opera Orchestra
Conductor:
Elgar Howarth

Press reviews

“Anyone who feared their decade-old admiration for the score might be dulled on reacquaintance didn't need to worry; Brabbins's performance reaffirmed this as one of the great operatic achievements of our time.” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 11 November 2004)

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