Flower and Hawk
Composer: Carlisle Floyd
Composer Bio: Composer, librettist, pianist, and teacher Carlisle Floyd has written operas for many of America’s cherished stories, basing much of his subject matter on Southern themes. Born in the Southern Bible Belt of Latta, South Carolina, he grew up in the thick of traveling preachers, revival meetings, and a close knit religious community, though at a young age was aware of that world’s controversial and hypocritical nature. Floyd’s primary teacher was pianist Ernst Bacon whom he followed from South Carolina to Syracuse University in New York where he earned a Bachelor and a Master of Music. He immediately joined the piano faculty of Florida State University where he began exploring an interest in composition, writing both the libretti and the music for operas with a distinctly American voice. He achieved national recognition with Susanna, which premiered at Florida State University in 1955.

Today Carlisle Floyd’s operas are performed throughout America and Europe and Susanna and Of Mice and Men have become standard repertoire. Floyd was one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Arts in 2004. He is also the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Citation of Merit from the National Association of American Conductors and Composers and the National Opera Institute’s Award for Service to American Opera. In 2008, Floyd was the only composer to be included in the inaugural National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
Librettist: Carlisle Floyd
Other Artistic Personnel: Frank Corsaro (director)
Willis Page (conductor)
Original Cast: Phyllis Curtin (Eleanor of Aquitaine)
Work Web Site: http://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moredetails.asp?musicid=33519
Premiere Date: May 16, 1972
Producing Company: Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
Description: Flower and Hawk is based on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, arguably the greatest woman of the Middle Ages. In her long life of eighty-two years she was born the Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitou, became Queen of France through marriage to Louis VII, and later became Queen of England when she married Henry II. The title is derived from her seal (on view in the Louvre) in which she stands holding a hawk in one hand and a flower in the other, suggesting a dualism in her character that is invoked in this work. The monodrama takes place in Salisbury Tower, where Eleanor has been a prisoner for nearly sixteen years: Henry II had her confined there after she and her sons led an unsuccessful rebellion against him in France. Overcome by feelings of despair, abandonment and betrayal, she considers taking her life with poison but instead resolves to distract herself by recalling happier times. As she relives her positive memories of becoming the Queen of France, the memory of her son Richard’s death resurfaces. She also recalls the many conflicts she endured with her two husbands, and again finds herself sinking into hopelessness. Time and again her feelings about Richard’s death force her into the present until she finally allows herself release from the guilt and self-doubt surrounding this tragic event. Finally, she is able to re-assume her role as Queen when the tolling of the bells announces the death of Henry and her liberation from the Salisbury Tower.
Character List (Major): Eleanor of Aquitaine (soprano)
Length: 00:45
Total Acts: 1
Orchestration: 2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2(II=bcl).2-4.2.2.1-timp-perc:SD/TD/tamb/susp.cym/crash cym/whip/bell/gong/chimes/vib/mar/xyl/glsp/cel-harp-strings
Contact: Boosey & Hawkes
Address: 229 W 28th Street, Floor 11
New York, NY 10001
E-mail Address: composers.us@boosey.com
Phone: 212-358-5300
Publisher Web Site: www.boosey.com
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