The English Cat

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The English Cat Die englische Katze
Opera by Hans Werner Henze
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F008277-0008, Köln, Schloss Brühl, Meisterkurse Musik.jpg
The composer in 1960
Librettist Edward Bond
Based on Les peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise
by Honoré de Balzac
Premiere 2 June 1983 (1983-06-02)
Schwetzingen Festival

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.[1][2] The UK premiere was at the Leith Theatre, Edinburgh, on 19 August 1987.[3] 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[4]
(Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies)
Lord Puff tenor Martin Finke
Minette, Lord Puff's wife soprano Inga Nielsen
Tom, Minette's lover baritone Wolfgang Schöne
Arnold bass Roland Bracht
Babette, Minette's sister mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Glauser
Louise soprano Regina Marheinike
Miss Crisp soprano Melinda Liebermann
Lady Toodle mezzo-soprano Ursula Sutter
Peter tenor Helmut Holzapfel
Plunkett bass Alfred Baumann
Jones baritone Karl-Friedrich Dürr


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.



  • 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



  1. ^ John Rockwell, "In Santa Fe, Henze's 'English Cat'". New York Times, 29 July 1985.
  2. ^ Michael Walsh (1985). "When the Style Is No Style". Time. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  3. ^ Dean, Winton, "Reports: Edinburgh" (November 1987). The Musical Times, 128 (1737): 642-643.
  4. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Die englische Katze". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).


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