COLLIS O HELICONII3rd Opera by Ezra Pound
Settings of Poems by Catullus & Sappho
Music composed by Ezra Pound
Texts by Catullus and Sappho
Introduction, Analysis, and Performance Edition by Margaret Fisher
Second Evening Art Publishing, 2005, first edition
180 pages, perfectbound (paper), shrinkwrapped, ISBN 9780972885935, list $40.00
About the opera
Pound commenced a third opera project sometime in the mid 1920s or early 1930s but left it unfinished c.1934. His music sketches for one aria by Catullus, carmen LXI (“Collis O Heliconii”), and one aria by Sappho, fragment 1 (“Poikilothron’ athanat’ Aphrodita”), are linked by incidental music. Pound also sketched a scenario regarding the staging of the opera.
Dramatic action of carmen 61
A festive crowd gathers outdoors at dusk. The boys carry pine torches and toss the nuts that are sacred to the marriage celebration. The virgins scatter flowers. The bride must dress and make the traditional journey from her mother’s embrace to the bridegroom’s bed chamber. Here the wedding party will sing and joke outside the closed door, preventing jealous gods from disturbing the couple’s lovemaking. The master of ceremonies calls for Hymenaeus to descend from Helicon. He instructs the young girls to prepare the bride and directs the young boys to form the wedding procession.
About the bookThis book is in two parts
Part I: Introduction to Catulllus and Sappho, and to Pound’s published remarks concerning each. Analysis of the musical treatment and problems in the manuscript tradition. Examples of the setting of a poet's words as an act of criticism. The influence of the setting of Catullus’ carmen LXI on Pound’s Canto XLV.
Collis O Heliconii.
Poikilothron’ athanat’ Aphrodite.
About the EditorMargaret Fisher, Ph.D. is an independent scholar and performance/media artist. She is the author of Ezra Pound’s Radio Operas: The BBC Experiments (The MIT Press). With Robert Hughes she edited The Complete Music of Ezra Pound in five volumes.
The Recovery of Ezra Pound’s 3rd Opera, Settings of Poems by Catullus & Sappho