Academic journal article Journal of Singing

FAREWELLS FROM PARADISE (Elizabeth Barrett Browning), a "Ten-Minute Opera" for Lyric Soprano, Baritone, Violoncello and Piano

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

FAREWELLS FROM PARADISE (Elizabeth Barrett Browning), a "Ten-Minute Opera" for Lyric Soprano, Baritone, Violoncello and Piano

Article excerpt

_____. FAREWELLS FROM PARADISE (Elizabeth Barrett Browning), a "Ten-minute Opera" for Lyric Soprano, Baritone, Violoncello and Piano. E. C. Schirmer Music Company (ECS), 2010. Tonal/Impressionistic; Sop/C^sub 4^-C^sub 6^, Bar/B^sub 2^-G^sub 4^; less: M-mH; regular and irregular meters with changes; Moderately [sung] = 88; V/mD, P/M-mD, Vc/M-mD; 15 minutes.

This work is based on both a painting and a poem: American artist, Thomas Cole's 1828 painting titled "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden," and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem "Farewells from Paradise." The voices that are speaking in the text are not those of Adam and Eve, but voices from the Garden of Eden bidding the primal couple farewell and sending with them a message of hope. The speakers are the "River-spirits" that speak of the flow of the "four rivers"; "A softer voice" that represents the trees and animals, birds and flowers, and the river sounds that will never be heard again; and the "Bird-spirit," the nightingale who sends out her song high and clear, "Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,/ And I bridge abysmal agonies/ With strong, clear calms of harmonies." Though the departing couple will never again hear the sounds of Eden, they are sent forth with memories and hope for the coming earthly life.

In spite of the five introductory measures of quasi-impressionistic descending chords in the treble of the piano that will recur at points later in the piece, this is a full blown romantic work The piano part contains tone painting (undulating sixteenths at Of the fishes' golden edges/ Flashing in and out the sedges), stretches of simple broken chord accompaniment patterns, countermelodic material, repeated chords (supporting the entrance of the "Bird-spirit"), and familiar waltz figurations for the song of the nightingale that follows the couple out into the world. …

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