- Magda Győri
- Norbert Németh
2018.07.18. - Frigyes   
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Lear of Britain




Lear of Britain

Opera in three acts


The libretto is written by

Magda Győri

based on the drama ”King Lear”

and sonnets from William Shakespeare




The plot of the opera



Act I.

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 doesn’t hesitate to exploit his situation: he encourages the innocent Edgar to escape, and rushes to tell his father’s 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 Edmund’s treachery and Edgar’s innocence.


Act II.

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 doesn’t 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 elements.


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.


Act III.

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 father’s 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 sides.


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.


© „Ars et Sanitas”