Between Two Silences
Composer: James McCarthy
Librettist: Carol S. Lashof
Original Cast: Roles: Virginia, VW, Mrs. Woolf (all three characters are Virginia Woolf at age 59)
Premiere Date: Not available.
Description: Between Two Silences takes place in Virginia Woolf’s writing studio—and in her memory—on the morning of March 28, 1941. Threatened by the forces of war and the mounting conviction that she is losing her sanity, Woolf struggles to find her way out of a trough of despair. She seeks refuge from terror by focusing on past joys and immediate pleasures—the rare gift of a whole pound of butter from her sometime lover Vita Sackville-West; the lyrical ecstasies of childhood summers at St. Ives; her intense affection for her friends; the happiness of daily life with her husband, Leonard; and the flood of yellow flowers in her garden. She summons her lucid intelligence to fight against the forces of violence and unreason. Questioning the stunning arrogance of dictators who lead the world into war, she posits that their confidence comes from the subjugation of women. But what if women, she wonders, began to tell the truth? Always she has attached herself to the breath of life with her pen. Now she tries to begin a new novel. But she cannot summon her powers. Doubtful that England will survive the war and certain that she is going mad again, Woolf chooses to take her life. But even as she makes this decision, the writer’s voice prevails. The opera ends with the words of Virginia Woolf: Behind the cotton wool of daily life is hidden a pattern that we—I mean all human beings—are connected with. The whole world is a work of art; we are parts of the work of art. There is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically, there is no God. We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.
Length: 01:30
Total Acts: 4
Orchestration: pf, 4 vc
Musical Style: contemporary/tonal
Contact: James McCarthy
E-mail Address: jk_mccarthyuk@yahoo.co.uk
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