• John McCabe
  • The Play of Mother Courage (1974)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Opera Nova

Extensive doubling of vocal parts is possible

  • 1111/1110/2perc/pf/str []
  • 1 hr 55 min
  • Monica Smith, from the book by Grimmelshausen
  • English

Programme Note


The opera is set during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48), a time of tragic devastation for Germany in which a third to a half of the population died through famine, battle, or plague. We first meet Courage as an old woman, recounting episodes from her turbulent youth, on which experiences she bases her present pragmatic morality. She became a whore in order to survive, but the army which she followed was routed and she lost all she gained. Scavenging for valuables on the battlefield she met an old woman, a former nurse and they became allies. A Colonel placed Courage and her ‘mother’ under his ‘protection’. Subsequently she regained her fortune through prostitution, became respectable and attempted to dismantle the social barrier by a ludicrous attempt at marriage, once again at the expense of losing all.