Three Arias from King Lear and His Daughters

(Completed January 2011). Excerpted from my opera-in-progress, King Lear and His Daughters, and arranged for this concert.  Premiered on January 26, 2011 by Sarah Davis, soprano; Emily Sinclair, soprano; Jessie Beran, mezzo-soprano; and Mutsumi Moteki, piano in the Grusin Music Hall, University of Colorado at Boulder. (ca. 12.5 min.)

King Lear and His Daughters is an opera in progress based on Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear.  These three arias are from Act I, scene 1.

In the opening of Act I, King Lear has called his three daughters together for a meeting.  At this meeting, he informs them that he is dividing his kingdom among the three of them so that he can retire from the strains and demands of being head-of-state.  But before he divides his kingdom, he asks the daughters to express to him a proclamation of their love so that he might discern which of them loves him most.  He has already planned to give the most “opulent” third to his favorite, the youngest daughter, Cordelia. So, starting with the oldest, Goneril, then the second oldest, Regan, then Cordelia, each of the daughters tells Lear of the extent of their love for him.  Goneril and Regan are very flowery and disingenuous with their professions of love.  Cordelia, however, sees through her sister’s flowery statements and tells her father very directly and honestly how she loves him.  For those of you who are not familiar with this story, King Lear becomes enraged by Cordelia’s words and disinherits her.  However, the presentation of these three arias does not include any of the words of Lear.  Lear sits at his throne, here represented by a vacant piano bench.  He is also represented by the music that begins the piece and which also happens in between the arias.  Please use your imaginations to give the old King form.