The Falcon (2021)
Chamber Opera for Four Soloists & Chamber Orchestra
Soprano soloist, alto soloist, tenor soloist, bass soloist, solo flute, guitar, and string quartet (2 violins, viola, and violoncello). Vocal score is also available.
Written for The Thompson Street Opera Company, Chicago, IL
Contact The Rogler Collection directly to inquire about rental and performance.
Based on the play by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, you can read the scene, contents, and more on The Full Program Notes for Robert Rogler’s Chamber Opera, The Falcon. Below is an abbreviated excerpt of the composer’s notes.
Tennyson’s play, The Falcon was written and performed in 1879 and ran for sixty-seven performances at the St. James Theatre. The play is somewhat of a mystery. After three epic English dramas, Tennyson wrote this half-hour, four character ditty taken from a fourteenth century Italian tale in the Decameron by Boccaccio. The simple story is of Count Federigo who is hopelessly in love with the Lady Giovanna - so much so that he impoverishes himself purchasing gifts for her in the hope of winning her affection.
The characters and relationships are universal ones, to which we can all relate - the affectionate, yet nagging parental figure; the frivolous, but good-hearted brother contrasted with the sober, serious, and introspective brother; and the complex woman trying to maintain her appearance of aloof dignity while a torrent of complicated thoughts and emotions rages beneath. The play also deals with the timeless themes of love and loss, sacrifice and rebirth, and the value of the material versus the value of the spiritual.
Despite this, the play was, and is, harshly criticized for various reasons, and this demonstrates well the way in which most of Tennysons’ work has been unfairly judged. Perhaps the most legitimate complaint is that this particular piece, as well as Tennyson’s other plays, lacks drama. Being a poet and a wordsmith, it’s hardly surprising that he is most concerned with dialogue and the rhythms and sounds of conversation rather than action...
But what might be found lacking in the work as a play is a true boon for the opera writer.
When the dialogue is slowed with music, the wide variety of emotions and changes from comedy to seriousness are the plays greatest assets. An opera written in which only one “consistent” feeling is expressed would be a very dull opera indeed. And since it is the emotions of the play enhanced with the music that are the true stars of the opera, these feelings should not be forced into the background by a plot overly dependent on action. Tennyson’s tantamount concern being the beauty and rhythm of its language allows The Falcon, almost more than any other play, the writing of beautiful and rhythmic music to accompany it.
In short, The Falcon is a delightful little play, and in setting it to music, I hope I have done justice to both the words and the great poet who wrote them. – Robert Rogler