The Sofa and The Departure
by Elizabeth Maconchy
INDEPENDENT OPERA at Sadler's Wells’ 2007 production featured two of Elizabeth Maconchy’s one-act operas The Sofa and The Departure. These wonderfully surreal and yet contrasting works were composed between 1956 and 1961 and premiered at Sadler's Wells.
Elizabeth Maconchy was born in Hertfordshire in 1907 but grew up in rural Ireland. She studied under Ralph Vaughn Williams at the Royal College of Music in London, but eschewed English pastoralism for the sophisticated modernism of Central Europe embodied by Bartók and Janáček. After completing her studies in Prague she returned to England, and in the post-war era was much in demand with the leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists of the day. In 1987 she was appointed Dame of the British Empire in recognition of her services to music. She died in 1994.
The Sofa is a light-headed work, involving a dissolute young rake who is punished by his aristocratic grandmother for his fast living and predatory womanizing by being turned into a sofa. The only hope of being turned back into man, she declares, is when a couple makes love on top of him. Matters come to a head when his current girlfriend is successfully seduced by another man on the sofa!
The Departure by contrast is a tragic and unsettling piece, a psychological exploration of bereavement.
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The Sofa and The Departure programme
Click here to download the programme in PDF format.