windward isles

Ça Ira

Ça Ira (French for "That'll do", translated here as There is Hope) is an opera in three acts by Roger Waters to a French libretto by Étienne Roda-Gil and his wife Nadine Roda-Gil, based on the historical subject of the French Revolution. The first recording was released September 26, 2005, featuring Bryn Terfel, Huang Ying, and Paul Groves.

The opera takes its name from a song from the French Revolution. Waters did not use the original lyrics (circa 1790, allegedly from a street singer called Ladré), but its spirit remains. The best-known performances of the song were recorded (and sung live) by Édith Piaf, with an alternate version of the words.

History

The work had a long gestation period. Waters, better known for his work in the rock band Pink Floyd, was approached by the Roda-Gils in 1987 to set their libretto. The initial version was completed and recorded by the end of 1988. After hearing it, François Mitterrand was suitably impressed and urged the Paris Opera to stage it for the bicentennial of the revolution the following July. The opera directors, however, were resistant, apparently, according to Waters, because "I was English, and I had been in a pop group." The project was shelved until 1995, when Waters began reworking the material for a professional recording and the premiere performance.

Critical reaction

Ça Ira has received good reviews. The biggest criticism was that the opera is too narrative, which makes staging very difficult — and, as a result, disrupts the flow of the piece. However, most critics agree that the music is very good, and even brilliant in parts (the slaves' liberation and the execution of Marie Antoinette were especially praised.) However, others have complained that the score is too conventional and that Waters should have taken more risks with it.

As the opera world is a fairly conservative one, Waters feared critics would be harsh on Ça Ira, and was relieved to find that their opinions were quite moderately positive.

It was acclaimed at Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome.

Performances

The first time Ça Ira was heard was in Malta on May 1, 2004 , the night that Malta entered the European Union. An approximately 15 minute long excerpt was heard by 80,000 people present at the waterfront of the Grand Harbour. The music was accompanied by a light show by Gert Hoff.

So far, there have been two concert performances of Ça Ira in Rome and one full production in Poznań. The premiere took place in Rome on November 17, 2005 in front of a sold-out crowd, and was followed the next evening by another performance. Both shows were praised for the high quality of music, vocal performances, and sound. The choir, orchestra, and soloists were complemented by a projection screen backdrop which displayed images (some photographed by Mark Holthusen) helping to tell the story.

A full operatic performance took place on 25 August, 2006 in Poznań, Poland, and was televised live on Poland's TVP. It sold out. The project involved the same number of musicians from the concert performances in addition to more than 200 dancers from the Great Theatre in Poznań. There were also period elements of stage design (such as horses, carriages and war scenes with soldiers and stunt performers) and full costumes. Over 500 artists were involved, and the production reportedly cost in excess of €2 million. The musicians will tour the show, with the assistance of local artists, in Beijing, Tokyo and possibly Moscow.

Performances were held in Kiev on December 16, and at the Poznań Opera House on December 30 and 31. , In April 2008, the opera was performed, with the libretto in English, as part of the Festival Amazonas de Ópera in Manaus, Brazil.

Recordings

The album hit #1 on both Billboard's Top Classical Chart and Sony's Classical Chart in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The album appears to be a smash hit in Poland and other European countries, as it has sold platinum in Poland (10,000 copies).

Track listing: Disc one

Act One

  1. "The Gathering Storm" – 1:38
  2. "Overture" – 4:06
  3. "Scene 1: A Garden in Vienna 1765" – 0:53
  4. "Madame Antoine, Madame Antoine" – 2:53
  5. Scene 2: Kings Sticks and Birds – 2:41
  6. "Honest Bird, Simple Bird" – 2:10
  7. "I Want to Be King" – 2:37
  8. "Let Us Break All the Shields" – 1:45
  9. Scene 3: The Grievances of the People – 4:40
  10. Scene 4: France in Disarray – 2:34
  11. "To Laugh is to Know How to Live" – 1:44
  12. "Slavers, Landlords, Bigots at Your Door" – 3:36
  13. Scene 5: The Fall of the Bastille – 1:34
  14. "To Freeze in the Dead of Night" – 2:19
  15. "So to the Streets in the Pouring Rain" – 4:17

Act Two

  1. Scene 1: Dances and Marches – 2:11
  2. "Now Hear Ye!" – 2:18
  3. "Flushed With Wine" – 4:31
  4. Scene 2: The Letter – 1:39
  5. "My Dear Cousin Bourbon of Spain" – 2:48
  6. "The Ship of State is All at Sea" – 1:46
  7. Scene 3: Silver Sugar and Indigo – 0:55
  8. "To The Windward Isles" – 4:50
  9. Scene 4: The Papal Edict – 1:17
  10. "In Paris There's a Rumble Under the Ground" – 6:19

Track listing: Disc two

Act Three

  1. Scene 1: The Fugitive King – 2:21
  2. "But the Marquis of Boulli Has a Trump Card Up His Sleeve" – 4:27
  3. "To Take Your Hat Off" – 2:40
  4. "The Echoes Never Fade from That Fusillade" – 3:15
  5. Scene 2: The Commune de Paris – 2:43
  6. "Vive la Commune de Paris" – 3:16
  7. "The National Assembly is Confused" – 2:41
  8. Scene 3: The Execution of Louis Capet – 1:39
  9. "Adieu Louis for You It's Over" – 3:45
  10. Scene 4: Marie Antoinette - The Last Night on Earth – 1:39
  11. "Adieu My Good and Tender Sister" – 5:09
  12. Scene 5: Liberty – 2:51
  13. "And in the Bushes Where They Survive" – 6:52

References

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