Inquest of Love
For English National Opera: uncredited emendation-work on libretto for his own opera by Jonathan Harvey
Publishers: Faber Music
A wedding. As we approach the liturgical moment of marriage itself, a dark-clad woman rises from the congregation and shoots at the couple. Twice the wedding resumes, twice more this happens. The bride falls dead. The dark woman is a figure from the bridegroom’s past, unfinished business of his that makes this wedding a lie. He has to follow his bride into the world of the dead, and work there to reclaim her, and to reconcile himself with the earlier woman whom he has scorned, and now earn her true forgiveness. Only then, in this world of the living, may the wedding proceed on the basis of true love.
The title is ambiguous: we hear it also as In Quest of Love. A beautiful story - but Harvey, by his own admission, had almost no theatrical experience at this time, and he needed help - particularly with managing the dramaturgy of the repeated wedding. I was coming from a different ideological world to his, and there were some religious particularities at work here that were alien to me: but it was Jonathan’s opera; my business was not to interpose my voice, but to tune into his, and engage myself morally on this task for him as a sympathetic craftsman.