Jonathan Dove's In Exile premieres at the George Enescu Festival on 3 September, followed by a performance in Bucharest on 5 September. The piece will be performed by cellist Raphael Wallfisch and baritone Simon Keenlyside with the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Bacău, conducted by Jessica Cottis.
Scored for solo baritone, solo cello and orchestra, In Exile moves through a day in the life of an involuntary exile: waking alone in a foreign land; remembering the moment of banishment, the moment of departure, the voyage; remembering the homeland. The Exile feels the pain of being so far away in his country’s time of need, unable to help his own people. He remembers all the names he has been called in this strange land. He thinks of all he has lost, and longs for home.
The spine of Alasdair Middleton’s libretto is from a 10th Century manuscript, The Wayfarer, by an anonymous old English author. Voices from across the ages flesh out a composite portrait: a single line of Shakespeare recurs among lyrical verses by Dante, Emily Lawless, Kahlil Gibran, Kaveh Bassiri and Douglas Hyde. The theme of exile was suggested by the history of the Wallfisch family, and is dedicated to Raphael’s mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, who has told her story in her book Inherit the Truth 1939-1945: The Documented Experiences of a Survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen.
In Exile fuses elements of operatic scena and concerto, the two soloists expressing complementary aspects of the same character. The solo cello is the alter ego of the baritone, ranging above and below his voice, able to take his song down into the depths and up into the heights. Sometimes the soloists hand over to each other, complete each other’s sentences, so to speak; sometimes they duet and counterpoint.