Lear of Britain
Lear of Britain
Opera in three acts
libretto is written by
on the drama King Lear
and sonnets from William Shakespeare
The plot of the opera
Scene 1. The palace of King Lear, a secluded room. Goneril confesses her love to Edmund. After her leave, her younger
sister Regan does the same. The plans of the royal daughters is thus revealed:
they both want the crown and Edmund, while plotting the death of their husbands
and their father. After Regan has left, Edmund the bastard tells us his dire
intentions: he too wants to gain the supreme power, at any cost. He despises
his father, the Earl of Gloucester and his step-brother, the legitimate son
Edgar. Edmund orders his servant Oswald who fancies his master just as much
as the women do to post a letter of utmost importance.
Scene 2. The palace of King Lear, throne room. Lear withdraws from ruling as he reaches the age of eighty. He
plans to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, and he is asking them to
express their love him. Goneril and Regan battle to outbid each other in
proving their endless love for their father, who is moved by their gentle
words. Cordelia, the youngest daughter is repulsed by this competition, and she
is unable to express her pure feelings at the sight of her sisters false
confessions. Lear condemns Cordelia and banishes her from the land, which he
divides between Goneril and Regan. Cordelia, being the wife of the King of
France, has to leave Britain.
Scene 3. The palace of the Earl of Gloucester. The unlawful son Edmund drives his father into the belief that
Edgar is out to kill him. As proof, he shows the Earl a false letter that he
himself had counterfeited. Gloucester orders Edgar to be prosecuted, and confides Edmund in his secret:
he is member of the clandestine alliance who had wowed to protect Lear, allied
by the King of France. Edmund doesnt hesitate to exploit his situation: he
encourages the innocent Edgar to escape, and rushes to tell his fathers
secrets to the Duke of Cornwall.
Being dismissed by Goneril, Lear arrives
with his escort, incensed, looking for Regan. Regan and her husband, the Duke
of Cornwall are being
entertained by Gloucester. She
too declines his father and sends him away, back to Goneril. The infuriated
Lear dismisses his escort, calls a curse upon his monstrous daughters and
leaves fuming, to spend his life in solitude in the wilderness. The Earl of
Gloucester is being brought before the Duke of Cornwall in chains. From the
accusations of the Duke, the Earl learns about Edmunds treachery and Edgars
Scene 1. Marshlands. The barren landscape is dark from the heavy storm, as Edgar is
stumbling around in the fearsome night, clad in rags, under the pretence of
madness. He finds shelter from the rain in a shed. Lear appears on the scene, who
seems to have lost his sanity in the agony of his disillusionment. His curses
are louder than the roar of the raging storm. The Earl of Kent finds him, to
take him to Dover. He is loyal
to the end, and as member of the clandestine society, has already sent notice
to Cordelia and the King of France about the doom of Lear. When they meet Edgar
in the shed, he introduces himself as the poor pheasant Thomas. In the seething
storm, an old man ushers Gloucester into the shed, who have been blinded on the order of Cornwall. In his shattered mind, Lear
doesnt recognise any of them, and sets out for Dover with the help of Kent, while Edgar offers his support to Gloucester, and they all proceed on their way, fighting with the raging
Scene 2. The palace of Gloucester. Edmund has inherited the earldom for
his good services, and now he is teasing Oswald with pretended love words in
his room. Visitors arrive: first Regan, then Goneril comes to talk to him.
Regan is waiting for his confession of love and a marriage proposal, but Goneril
later threatens Edmund to kill him if she chooses her sister instead of her.
She tries to persuade Edmund into murdering her husband, the Duke of Albany.
Scene 3. Marshlands, elsewhere. Edgar prevents the blind Gloucester from ending his life, and reveals himself. He forgives his father,
and pledges to mete out justice on Edmund.
Scene 1. Camp of the French army, near Dover. Cordelia
disembarks with the French army at Dover, and hurries to the protection of her father. She meets the Earl of
Kent and Lear in the camp, and her fathers mind clears up at the sight of his
only true daughter. He begs for her pardon, and Cordelia happily lays her pure,
eternal love on her father.
Scene 2. Battle. The British and the French
clash at Dover. The fierce
battle ends with the victory of the British, but casualties are high on both
Scene 3. The British camp, near Dover. Edmund and Regan celebrate the victory when suddenly Regan is seized
by a fit. The arriving Goneril gives explanations to her sickness: she has
poisoned her sister in order to get Edmund for herself and gain control over
the land. With the last spark of her life, Regan stabs Goneril to cross her
plans, and both of them die.
The victorious Duke of Albany arrives,
accompanied by Edgar and the soldiers. Knowing all about the malicious deeds of
the unlawful son, Albany
sentences Edmund to death. In his least breath, Edmund tells everyone laughing
how he had Lear and Cordelia killed after the battle.
The only person mourning for Edmund is
Oswald, and he ends his own life amongst tears. Soldiers lead by Kent carry the bodies of Lear and Cordelia,
and the Earl throws himself to die at the feet of his beloved king. The only
survivors of the tragedy are Edgar and Albany thus, it is up to the Duke to sum up the sad moral of the story.
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