A Simple Love Song


Soprano and Tenor soloists and Orchestra

Other Information

A Simple Love Song (2002) for soprano, tenor and orchestra is an intense work of instrumental and vocal writing in five “scenes” in order to display the key element of theatricality of performance. The subject of the work is not simply portrayed by the performers, but is the performers themselves, an idea which is concerned with the roles of the performers in performance and the changing relationship between the soloists, the orchestra and the audience. The love song, sung by the soprano, is simply that, but the drama does not focus on the song, but on the unexpected input by the male (tenor) character, who is performing with orchestra as a member of the trumpet section. Though he is an experienced performer, his recent heart-breaking experience with love means that he cannot continue to support the notion that the song he is accompanying portrays and he stand up, shouting “No, no no!” and “What about a lost lover?” as he stumbles through the orchestra to the front of the stage. In reciting the first part of the poem To His Lost Lover (1993) by Simon Armitage, the tenor tries to explain.

The female character (soprano) takes some convincing, determined to complete her performance of the same “Simple Love Song”. After much development of the interaction between the two disparate characters, her performance inevitably seduces the male character, watching from the stage. In the final scene, the soprano and tenor sing the love song together for the first and only time, but this does not incite an archetypical, romantic conclusion. The soprano finishes her song and leaves the stage, while the male character, accompanied by the same instrumental ensemble as the soprano at the beginning of the work, is left to recite the last part of the poem, finishing with the lines “And left unsaid some things he should have spoken, about the heart, where it hurt exactly, and how often.”