Music for actress and piano duo set to poetry from Dante’s Inferno, the “Francesca da Rimini” scene.

for actress and piano duo (four hands) / 9 min.

Performance Notes

The work can be performed in either the original Italian or in English translation (preferably, Dorothy L. Sayers’s translation). Neither pitches nor rhythms are indicated for the voice—only bar lines to maintain approximate placement with the music. Lighting effects would be very appropriate to the “melodramatic” character of the story of Francesca da Rimini, and of the music.

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Program Note

While I was studying at Cambridge University in 1988, I became engrossed with Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Il Raconto di Francesca was my first Dante treatment (to be followed by my String Quartet No. 1: Refining Fire and Hosannas of the Second Heaven for orchestra), and the only one incorporating voice. I composed it at the invitation of a fellow student, a pianist with a four-hands concert date in Sicily.

Despite the familiarity of the story of adulterous Francesca da Rimini and the double murder by her enraged husband—especially to an Italian audience—the tale seized my imagination and provided an opportunity to work out harmonic procedures that would inform my work for some years to come. The sensuous sound of the Italian poetry can be an important element of the music, but a performance in English, with its intelligibility for audiences here, creates almost a second version.

—Theodore Wiprud

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