In the course of an illustrated lecture on the mating habits of waterfowl, an ornithologist (baritone Julien Van Mellaerts) describes his oppressive marriage. Each song-like section of the drama describes a different species, and onto each he projects his own feelings – to the evident concern of his wife in the audience, whose bird-like coughs interrupt his lyric digressions. Light hearted and melancholy in equal measure.
Susan Bickley, widely regarded as one of the most accomplished mezzo-sopranos of her generation, makes her directorial debut, and the pianist is Ella O’Neill. Sung in English. Adapted by Dominick Argento from the On the Harmfulness of Tobacco by Anton Chekov and The Birds of America by J. J. Audobon. A contemporary opera, premiered in 1977.
impressive and moving