Kings, Queens, Saints, and Sinners

Five Monodramas

May 30, 2015 at 7:30pm
Boston Conservatory Theater

Four Poems of St. Teresa of Avila
By Lennox Berkeley
featuring Stephanie Kacoyanis

By Richard Rodney Bennett
featuring Martin Near

By Benjamin Britten
featuring Erica Brookhyser

King Harald’s Saga
By Judith Weir
featuring Elizabeth Keusch

Eight Songs for a Mad King
By Peter Maxwell Davies
featuring Thomas Meglioranza

Run time: Ninety minutes with one twenty-minute intermission


From Britten to Weir, 12th-century Icelandic saga to Romantic tragedy, five rising stars of opera command the stage in the ultimate display of vocal prowess and charisma: solo drama. Works by five iconic British composers of the 20th and 21st centuries delve into the minds and souls of mythical and historical figures. Britten’s Phaedra explores the fate of the queen of Greek myth as reimagined in the 17th century by Racine. Bennett’s Ophelia inhabits the pale robes of Rimbaud’s tragic, waterborn maiden, while Berkeley’s Four Poems of St. Teresa of Avila set poetic spiritual raptures of the 16th-century Spanish mystic. Weir’s King Harald’s Saga is a microcosm of a three-act opera for unaccompanied soprano, chronicling the attempted Norwegian invasion of England in 1066. And Davies’s Eight Songs for a Mad King ricochets through the tortured mind of King George III in an extended, virtuosic mad scene that challenges perception and reality.

“Particularly beautiful playing”

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

Cast and Creative

Gil RoseGil Rose

Stephanie Kacoyanis Stephanie Kacoyanis
Martin Near Martin Near
Elizabeth Keusch Elizabeth Keusch
Erica Brookhyser Erica Brookhyser
Thomas Meglioranza Thomas Meglioranza


Lennox Randal François Berkeley (1903-1989) was introduced to music by his father’s pianola rolls, a godmother who had studied piano and singing in Paris, and an aunt who was a salon composer. He read music and French at Merton College, Oxford, while coxing for the crew team and was the first composer to set the poetry of his friend W. H. Auden. From 1926-1932, Berkeley studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, attending and reviewing concerts and socializing with the Diaghilev circle. He had met Francis Poulenc at Oxford, and they formed a lifelong friendship that resulted in visits, arrangements of each other’s works, and written tributes.

Read the program notes