We are all addicted to love. Love is great. Love is beautiful. In 1967 John Lennon wrote a song called All You Need is Love and if the last year has taught us anything it is that love can help us power through the most testing times. However, despite being celebrated as life's ultimate goal, the happy ever after we all desire and deserve isn't always as easy as it's portrayed. Love can make us feel vulnerable and irrational and in opera, it can too often lead to devastating consequences.
We can all agree that unrequited love is tough on the heart. In Poulenc's La voix humaine, despite only being able to hear one side of the phone conversation, we know that L's love for her partner consumes her. When her feelings aren't reciprocated the relationship breaks down and we see her world unravelling, one note at the time. As she desperately tries to win him back, her pain is projected in every breath and gesture but it is too late, he is no longer interested. As the phone line falls silent she is left whispering 'Je t'aime' to nobody. Heart-broken and alone, there is only one way out...
The instantly recognisable The Flower Duet bares absolutely no resemblance to the overarching theme of Delibe's Lakmé. The piece, which is performed by the characters Lakmé and her servant Mallika, oozes simplicity and innocence, the complete opposite of the relationship between Gerald and Lakmé. Yes, they love each other but their type of relationship is forbidden and her father does not approve. This piece marks the turning point as, while Lakmé is away gathering flowers, Gerald is visited by a friend who reminds him of his duty to the service. He turns away from her, leaving her with nothing to live for.
Like many of opera’s greatest love stories, Dwynwen, the Welsh Patron Saint of Love didn't get the happy ever after she longed for either. Yes, heartache lies at the heart of one of the most romantic days in the Welsh calendar. Dwynwen was hopelessly in love with a local boy called Maelon, but her father [the King] had promised her hand to a Prince. Distraught, she ran to the woods and begged God to erase all memory of her one true love. He responded and granted her three wishes including her request for him to meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers. To show her gratitude for fulfilling the wishes, she devoted herself to him and established a monastery on Llanddwyn Island on the Western side of the Isle of Anglesey where she remained unmarried for the rest of her life.
Whether you are newly heartbroken, happily single, or deeply in love, spend your Saint Dwynwen's Day knowing that we at Welsh National Opera love you dearly and can't wait to welcome you all back to the theatre for a drama filled evening as soon as possible.