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Philip Glass

Publisher: Chester Music

The Sound of a Voice (2003)
Commissioned by The American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Work Notes
An opera in two parts: The Sound of a Voice and Hotel of Dreams. Libretto (English) by David Henry Hwang.
Text Writer
David Henry Hwang
Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
1 Hour 5 Minutes
Soprano, Baritone
Programme Note
Philip Glass The Sound of a Voice (2003)
Unnamed woman in part 1, Madame of the brothel in part 2 - soprano
The wandering samurai in part 1, Yamamoto the writer in part 2 - baritone

The Sound of a Voice is a chamber opera by Philip Glass, scored for two singers, a man and a woman, and a small ensemble with Asian and Western instrumentation including a pipa player. It was initially directed by Robert Woodruff and the libretto written by Asian-American playwright David Henry Hwang is based on his one act play originally appeared at The New York Public Theatre in the early 80's in which the dreams and fantasies of a Japanese writer and an ageing warrior are laid bare. Philip Glass's previous collaborations with David Henry Hwang include The Voyage, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof and After Eros. It has been commissioned by A.R.T. - American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA). It is going to be premièred at the Loeb Drama Center, A.R.T. - American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) on May 24, 2003 and will continue for performances through June 28, 2003

The Sound of a Voice explores how intimacy is achieved between people who have lived in seclusion. In the first part, an ageing Japanese warrior arrives at the home of a mysterious woman who lives like a hermit deep in the woods. Has he come as her suitor, or her assassin? Does she intend to love him, or to imprison him forever, like the flowers she cultivates so assiduously? The battles of love become a deadly contest in this tale, blurring the distinctions between hero and coward, between victor and vanquished. In the second part, an elderly Japanese writer visits a mysterious brothel, which caters to men near the end of their lives by providing them with a means to relive their youth. The writer's initial contempt for the house gives way first to acceptance, then to regular visits. Ultimately, he finds his dreams and fantasies exposed before the brothel's elderly Madame, and embarks with her on an ethereal journey beyond sex and love.

Preview the score:

  • 23 MAY 2012
    Kaiserslautern, GERMANY
    Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern
  • 15 AUG 2011
    Arcola Theatre, London
    Arcola Theatre

    Other Dates:
    16 August - Arcola Theatre, London
  • 11 AUG 2007
    Luosto Classic Festival, Finland
    Lapland Chamber Orchestra
    John Storgårds, conductor
  • 19 APR 2007
    Opera Theater Pittsburgh, USA
    Opera Theatre Of Pittsburgh

    Other Dates:
    20-22 April - Opera Theater Pittsburgh, USA
  • 18 NOV 2006
    Aratani Japan Theater, Los Angeles, CA
    Robert Woodruff, director; Robert Israel, scenery designer; Andreas Mitisek, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 November - Aratani Japan Theater, Los Angeles, CA

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