Written by Jan Hartmann
Music Drama in 3 Acts. This is the classic twelfth-century love story between Abelard- cleric, scholar and poet-philosopher- and his young and beautiful student, Heloise. The opera opens on the doorstep of Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, where Abelard's popularity as a liberal cleric is brought to the fore when he settles a dispute among a group of students. However, Abelard's free-thinking ideas are considered heretical by some who hold power in the church, particularly Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, and Fulbert, Canon of Notre Dame. It is Fulbert who has brought Abelard to his house to tutor Heloise, his niece.
As the idyllic summer progresses, Abelard and Heloise fall passionately in love. When the news comes out that Heloise has become pregnant by Abelard, a violent succession of events ensues. Fulbert, in a state of rage, hires thugs to overpower Abelard and castrate him. Meanwhile, Heloise has been spirited away to a convent in Argenteuil.
Abelard accepts his fate as God's will, and even finds solace in his condition, which allows him to return to undivided service to God. In the last act, Abelard is brought before the bishops at Sens and condemned for heresy. The opera ends with the burial of Abelard at the vault in Paraclete as Heloise reads aloud the last letter he wrote to her, and the nuns are singing "Veni Creator Spiritus." Duration: ~ 2 Hours, 15 Minutes
| PETER THE VENERABLE (doubles with Zophar) || Bass |
| THIBAULT, protege of Abelard || Bass-Baritone |
| HELOISE, Fulbert's niece, Abelard's pupil || Soprano |
| JOB'S WIFE || Mezzo-Soprano |
| JOB (doubles with Alberic) || Bass-Baritone |
| ELIPHAZ (doubles with Lotulf) || Tenor |
| BILDAD (male attire) || Contralto |
| ABELARD, cleric, scholar and poet-philosopher || Tenor |
| BERNARD, Abbot of Clairvaux || Bass |
| FULBERT, a Canon of Notre Dame, Heloise's uncle || Tenor |
| DENYS, a Canon of Notre Dame || Baritone |
| BERTHE, Fulbert's housekeeper || Mezzo-Soprano |
| SISTER SIMONE || Mezzo-Soprano |
| THE SUN and THE MOON, two children || Non singing |
| CHORUS, multiple parts || |
1982, Charlotte Opera
Instrumentation Notes: Reviews:
2 2 2 2 - 2 1 1 0 - P - H - Str
The score blends rich orchestration and melodious vocal writing to good effect... Ward sets up a parade of solos and duets that cover the musical gamut... The score spills chants, ballads, tightly harmonized choruses and complex jazz rhythms.
-LaFleur Paysour, NORTH CAROLINA OBSERVER