• Simon Holt
  • The Nightingale's to Blame (1998)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Co-commissioned by Opera North, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Munich Biennale

Commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Opera North and the Munich Biennale.

  • 2(2pic,2afl).1.1+bcl.0/1100/perc/hp/str(3va.2vc.2db)
  • 1 hr 20 min
  • Lorca
  • English

Programme Note


The pain of love that fled and hid its face in death. You can tell them all, the nightingale’s to blame.”
Don Perlimplin, middle aged yet emotionally and sexually repressed, is bullied into marriage with the voluptuous Belisa by his maid Marcolfa and Belisa’s mother. Watched by two duende their wedding night is both a sensual epiphany for him and also a revelation of the pain of love; her open infidelity both confuses and excites him. Her particular love for a mysterious stranger wrapped in a red cloak, who sends her notes that dismiss her soul desiring only “the trembling whiteness of her morbid flesh”, leads to Perlimplin arranging a meeting between the two lovers in the garden. His emotional awakening and her love are consummated in his final sacrifice.

© Susanna Eastburn

Technical Details
Federico Garcia Lorca, The Love of Don Perlimplin for Belisa in the Garden
translated by David Johnston

Duration c. 80’ (no interval)
Prologue 25’
Scene I ca. 28’
Scene II ca. 12’
Scene III ca. 15’

Dramatis Personae
Don Perlimplin - bass/baritone
Belisa - coloratura soprano
Marcolfa - mezzo-soprano
Belisa’s Mother (Prologue only) - coloratura mezzo
first Duende (Scene 1 only) - slight soprano
second Duende (Scene 1 only) - slight soprano

2 flutes, oboe, clarinet in A, bass clarinet
horn, trumpet, harp, 1 percussionist
3 violas, 2 cellos, 2 double basses