Loving (Toi)

Loving (Toi). Opera with music and text by R. Murray Schafer. It was completed in 1965. One of its four major arias ('Geography of Eros'), however, was completed in 1963 and premiered in Toronto by Mary Morrison.

Loving (Toi). Opera with music and text by R. Murray Schafer. It was completed in 1965. One of its four major arias ('Geography of Eros'), however, was completed in 1963 and premiered in Toronto by Mary Morrison.

The work was commissioned by the CBC French network and performed first (in part) as Toi on the TV series L'Heure du concert 3 Feb 1966. The producer was Pierre Mercure. The music director was Serge Garant. It was rebroadcast on the English network as Loving, 25 May 1966.

Loving received a semi-staged performance of the complete score 11 Mar 1978 in Toronto by a cast that included Mary Lou Fallis, Jean McPhail, Susan Gudgeon, and Kathy Terrell and with a chamber orchestra conducted by Robert Aitken. It was recorded that year (2-Mel SMLP-4035-4036) by the same performers.

In Schafer's words Loving is a 'synaesthetic work' in which 'several arts are employed in extremely close, frequently interpenetrating relationships.' There is no plot in the sense of unfolding action; rather there is a series of comments on and suggestions about love between man and woman. The female psyche is portrayed by the four singers - Modesty (soprano), Ishtar, Vanity, and Eros (all mezzos) - and by an actress, Elle. The male psyche is represented by an actor, Lui, and a voice on tape, Le Poète. Dancers and other extras are optional.

The libretto employs both English and French, the French portions of the score being translated by Gabriel Charpentier from Schafer's English text. Elle speaks exclusively in English, Lui and Le Poète speak in French, and although the four singing roles employ both languages, the texts for Modesty, Eros, and Vanity are principally in English while that of Ishtar is principally in French.

The work is scored for small ensemble (but requires six percussion players) and lasts about 70 minutes. It was published by Berandol in 1979 under the single title Loving.


Further Reading

  • Schafer, R. Murray. 'Notes for the stage work "Loving" (1965),' CMB, 8, Spring/Summer 1974; slightly rev as 'My first work for the stage: "Loving",' Patria and the Theatre of Confluence (Indian River, Ont 1991) and Descant, vol 22, Summer 1991

    Littler, William. 'Canadian gets his premiere... only twelve years late,' Toronto Star, 4 Mar 1978

    Schafer, R. Murray. 'R. Murray Schafer: A Collection,' Open Letter, fall 1979 (libretto)