• John Harbison
  • Full Moon in March (1977)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • fl, ob, bcl, perc, pf(prpf), vn, va, vc
  • Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Tenor; dancer
  • 33 min
  • Libretto by the composer after the play by W. B. Yeats.

Programme Note

Composer Note:
In Yeats’ astrological-metaphysical system, the full moon has a special place in Phase 15, a phase of complete and unexplainable beauty where opposites unite. March represents the ending of the cycle and the creation of a new one. The characters in the drama meet at a moment of mythic truth remote from motivation or even need to explain.

As in an earlier opera, Winter’s Tale, the intent is to make an emblematic ritual-opera which seeks to circumvent or ignore certain realistic conventions without sacrificing the bedrock operatic essentials, melody and drama.

Yeats knew well that music was a willful force when combined with his poetry: “The orchestra brings more elaborate music and I have gone over to the enemy. I say to the musician: ‘Lose my words in patterns of sound as the name of God is lost in Arabian arabesques. They are a secret between the singers, myself, yourself. The plain fable, plain prose of the dialogue. Ninette de Valois’ dance are there for the audience. They can find my works in the book if they are curious, but we will not thrust our secret upon them.’ ”

— John Harbison

Cast List:
   FIRST ATTENDANT: Soprano
   THE QUEEN: Mezzo-Soprano
   SECOND ATTENDANT: Tenor
   THE SWINEHERD: Baritone

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