Iseult Speaks for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano


For voice and piano (2016)




36 min.


Voice and piano


Elizabeth Hamilton


Iseult Speaks: "what we have is myth"
Iseult Sings
Iseult Swims
Iseult Skewers
Iseult Sees
Iseult Speaks: "This is what I know about choice"
Iseult Sparks
Iseult Stagnates
Iseult's Short-Breathed Sestina
Iseult Storms
Iseult Speaks: "Eventually...."
Iseult Steels (Herself)

Program Notes

Iseult Speaks is an extended song cycle for mezzo-soprano based on a retelling of the Tristan/Iseult myth. For those of you who might not be familiar with the story, the basic outline—and there are many variations on this skeleton—is that Tristan is supposed to bring Iseult to marry his uncle, but on the way they fall in love, usually because of a potion they accidentally ingest. Portrayals of Iseult range from passive cipher to tragic heroine to wanton seductress, but she is almost always cast as a one-dimensional accessory to Tristan. Elizabeth Hamilton’s evocative and provocative poems reexamine the legend from Iseult’spoint of view, here somewhat omniscient and shaded with a modern sensibility that links the tale to contemporary experiences. The text touches on questions of gender roles, societal pressure, and personal power as the narrator contemplates her life, rages against the unfairness of fate, wallows in memories of physical affection, condemns Tristan for his inaction, and vacillates between confidence, insecurity, hope, and despair. It has been a pleasure setting these gorgeous poems, and I want to thank Elizabeth for trusting me with her words!


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