Broken Strings (1992, rev. 1995) 60'

Opera in One Act

Libretto by: DAVID RUDKIN, after a traditional Buddhist tale "Guttil Jatak"

Soloist(s): S.C.2T.HighBar.Bar.B-Bar.2B

Orchestration: 1(pic,afl)1(ca)1(e flat cl)1+cbn/211(T/B)/2perc/cel.hp.gtr/str[]

Commissioned by: the Landeshauptstadt Muenchen for the Muenchener Biennale 1992

Dedicated to: Oliver Knussen

First performance: 11 May 1992

by the Netherlands Opera, Amsterdam
(De Nederlandse Opera)
with the Asko Ensemble conducted by David Porcelijn,
11 - 14 May 1992 (Amsterdam) and 22 - 24 May (Munich)

Stage Direction by Pierre Audi
Design by Chloe Obolensky
Lighting by Jean Kalman
Dramaturgy by Klaus Bertisch

Composed April 1991 to March 1992
(Revised October/November 1995 and 1997)

Prize information: Siemens Composition Prize, 1993

The Libretto is based on an ancient Buddhist tale from the Pali Canon Guttil Jatak. This work, written at the request of Hans Werner Henze, is the second part of the Double Bill which includes its companion work Snatched by the Gods.

"The companion piece, Broken Strings, is musically more individual and instrumentally even more lustrous: hearing it played so superbly by the ASKO Ensemble under David Porcelijn was like turning the pages of a richly illuminated Persian or Moghul book." - Paul Griffiths, The Financial Times, 18 May 1992

"[Broken Strings’] sound-world is utterly individual [and]…moves at its own dangerously leisurely pace. Well, so do Bruckner and Birtwistle, and the way the audience was held in breathless silence at the climax…suggests Vir knows perfectly well what he is doing." - Rodney Milnes, Opera, 01/02/1998

The climactic scene in Broken Strings, De Nederlandse Opera production directed by Pierre Audi.



1. NETHERLANDS OPERA for the Munich Biennale, Amsterdam and Munich, 1992, dir. Pierre Audi

2. ALMEIDA OPERA London, 1996, dir. David Farnes

3. SCOTTISH OPERA Glasgow and Edinburgh, 1998, dir. Antony MacDonald



6. TRANSPARAANT OPERA Antwerp, Rouen, Rotterdam 2001: Revival of Original Production (Netherlands Opera), dir. Pierre Audi