Midsummer Magic (2001)

Single-act opera for chamber ensemble and 19 singers Libretto: Dobrinka Tabakova 

The Ensemble: Clarinet (Bb & E), percussion (tubular bells, glockenspiel and vibraphone), piano, 'cello 

Cast: High voice (soprano/countertenor)- the Boy 3 sopranos- fireflies 6 sopranos, 4 mezzos, 2 tenors and 3 basses- The Shadows. 


The bell sounds midnight Fireflies play in the still, warm summer's night. A young boy cannot sleep, so he walks around in the garden, thinking to himself how ridiculous the stories that his parents tell him are, unaware of what is going on so close to him.

1 o'clock The boy's attention is grabbed by distant murmurs, so he follows the sound to find its source. He reaches a large juniper and hides behind it, to satisfy his curiosity. But all he can see are dark figures, no faces, no flesh, like shadows. Now that he is closer, he can hear them talk, and realises that they suspect the presence of an outsider. Aware that he is the outsider, the boy tries to run away. He is invited back by one of the figures, who assures him that he has nothing to be afraid of. Still, frightened, but even more curious, the boy follows the silhouette with no face.

2 o'clock When he is amongst the dark, mysterious beings, the boy realises that they are dancing to music he had never heard before. As they dance, the figures tell him that they are the shadows of people who are now asleep. They lead separate lives when it is night. The boy asks them to tell him about their secret existence, but is told that they have been sworn to secrecy, and no mortal has ever been allowed to find that out. But one of the shadows recalls that there is a way- if the eldest shadow sings him back to sleep.

3/4 o'clock The eldest shadow sings a lullaby, and the boy quickly falls asleep. Now it is safe for the shadows to disclose their secret. They tell the boy that through the night they travel far to get inspiration for their 'masters'- the humans, and then they visit them in their dreams, telling them their fascinating stories. The shadows begin to name some of the people that they have visited regularly. The playful fireflies subdue their voices.

5 o'clock Dawn approaches, and the shadows must return to their day-masters. In his sleep the boy asks if he could see them again. The shadows tell him that they only meet like this on the longest day of the year- if the moon is full. But if he believes in their powers, they will be with him forever. The shadows quickly disappear as the dawn rises.

First Performance: 10th May 2001, Guildhall School of Music & Drama 

Duration: c. 35'

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Tabakova- Midsummer Magic (2001)

Preview Score


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