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Philip Glass

Publisher: Chester Music

Les Enfants Terribles (1996)
commissioned by Steps '96, MIGROS Switzerland - Cultural Commitment
Work Notes
Dance-opera spectacle adapted from the work of Jean Cocteau by Philip Glass and Susan Marshall. Lyrics in French.
Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Operetta / Musical
Year Composed
1 Hour 35 Minutes
Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, Baritone
Programme Note
Philip Glass Les Enfants Terribles (1996)
Lise - soprano
Paul - bass-baritone
Gérard - tenor
Dargelos, Agathe - mezzo-soprano

Dancers and singers share the stage in Les Enfants Terribles, the final instalment of Philip Glass' trilogy based on the work of Jean Cocteau. Articulating Cocteau's belief in the transcendent power of imagination and creativity, Les Enfants is the story of Paul and Lise, two characters so caught up in a world of their own imaginings that they can no longer see a reality beyond their 'game'. The singers, along with eight dancers, alternately portray the action.

Gérard tells the story of a brother and sister, Paul and Lise, who live in a fantasy world of their own imaginings. They are severed from the outside world when Paul – after being struck by a snowball thrown by his idol Dargelos – falls ill and is forced to stay home from school. Shortly thereafter, their mother’s untimely death leaves them completely alone.

Isolated and totally dependent on each other, they pass their days in their “Room”, acting out their wild fantasies, which they term “playing the Game”. At first innocent, these games become increasingly twisted. Gérard, their only friend, visits them and serves as their private audience.

Lise, growing tired of this oppressive situation, eventually gets a job as a model. She befriends another model, Agathe, and brings her home. Agathe looks exactly like Dargelos, and her presence further threatens the delicate balance that these “children” have created.

Lise’s last chance to get away crumbles when her finance Michael dies in a car crash. Fate has set the stage for tragedy. Unable to accept that her brother Paul has fallen in love with Agathe, Lise acts to prevent it. She tricks their friend Gérard to marry Agathe, insuring that she and Paul will never be separated. But the “magical” world the two of them had before cannot be recreated. Paul tries to poison himself, and in the confusion that follows, the truth about Lise’s plot comes out. What had begun as an innocent children’s Game ends tragically in death and destruction.

  • Ensemble
    Philip Glass, Nelson Padgett and Eleanor Sandresky (pianos), Christine Arand (soprano), Philip Cutlip (bass-baritone), Hal Cazalet (tenor), and Valerie Komar (mezzo soprano)
    Karen Kemensek
    Orange Mountain Music:
  • Soloist(s)
    Maki Namekawa, piano; Russell Daies, piano
    Orange Mountain Music:
Glass' music, like raindrops lullingly striking one's windowpane, is transformed into whispering accomplices in the world of the stage when combined with words and dance. It supports and encourages the actors to the most emotionally provocative acts while allowing them to maintain control and distance.
Anne Flindt Christensen, Information, Denmark,01/01/0001
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