The English Cat
|The English Cat Die englische Katze|
|Opera by Hans Werner Henze|
The composer in 1960
|Based on||Les peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise
by Honoré de Balzac
|Premiere||2 June 1983
The English Cat (in German, Die englische Katze) is an opera in two acts by Hans Werner Henze to an English libretto by Edward Bond, based on Les peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise (The heartbreak of an English cat) by Honoré de Balzac. The opera was first performed in a German translation by the Stuttgart Opera at the Schlosstheater Schwetzingen at the Schwetzingen Festival on 2 June 1983. The French premiere was at the Opéra-Comique, Paris in 1984. The first performance using the original English text was at Santa Fe on 13 July 1985. The UK premiere was at the Leith Theatre, Edinburgh, on 19 August 1987. A revised version was performed at Montepulciano in 1990 and this was given in London in 1991.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 2 June 1983
(Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies)
|Lord Puff||tenor||Martin Finke|
|Minette, Lord Puff's wife||soprano||Inga Nielsen|
|Tom, Minette's lover||baritone||Wolfgang Schöne|
|Babette, Minette's sister||mezzo-soprano||Elisabeth Glauser|
|Miss Crisp||soprano||Melinda Liebermann|
|Lady Toodle||mezzo-soprano||Ursula Sutter|
The opera is set in London in the 1890s.
A group of bourgeois cats has formed the Royal Society for the Protection of Rats. Avowed pacifists as well, the society has been raising a young orphan mouse, Louise. There is a love triangle between Lord Puff, his wife Minette, and Tom.
- Woodwind: 2 flutes, (also alto flute and piccolo), 2 oboes (also English horn, 2nd doubling on Heckelphone), 2 clarinets (1st doubling on E flat clarinet, 2nd on bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet), 2 bassoons (2nd doubling on double bassoon)
- Brass: 2 horns, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone
- Percussion (3 players): 2 glass bars, 9 Chinese gongs, suspended cymbals, African wood drum, 8 log drums, tumba, maracas, claves, güiro, 2 sistrums, wood block, cabaça, 5 temple blocks, switches, American slat clacks, bass metallophone (or bass xylophone), 9 finger cymbals, slide whistle, 14 small bells
- harp, piano (also 4 hands), celesta, small organ, zither, strings (220.127.116.11.1)
- Wergo WER 62042: Richard Berkeley-Steele (Lord Puff), Mark Coles (Arnold), Louisa Kennedy (Minett), Gunvor Nilsson (Babette/Der Mond), Ian Platt (Tom); Parnassus Orchestra London; Markus Stenz, conductor
- John Rockwell, "In Santa Fe, Henze's 'English Cat'". New York Times, 29 July 1985.
- Michael Walsh (1985). "When the Style Is No Style". Time. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
- Dean, Winton, "Reports: Edinburgh" (November 1987). The Musical Times, 128 (1737): 642-643.
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Die englische Katze". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).
- Clements, Andrew, "The English Cat", The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
- The English Cat on the Schott Music website (English/German)
- Wergo English language page on CD set of The English Cat