Criseyde — Media


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Criseyde - A New Opera by Alice Shields

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In Criseyde's Parlor (Act One, Scene 2)

Earlier in Act I, Pandar has arranged for his boss Troilus to view his beautiful young widowed niece Criseyde. Troilus sees her, and is bowled over with love and desire. Pandar tells him he will work on his niece to let Troilus date her. Then he goes to his niece's house. Criseyde is reading. Pandar enters, and pressures her to let his boss Troilus visit her, using threats and guilt-trips to get her to agree. Knowing that she has no power to refuse her uncle, she finally submits, and Pandar exits. Angry at her powerlessness, she calls out after him that she will not love a man against her will.

Criseyde's Dream (Act One, Scene 4)

The cast — Pandar, Troilus, and the Three Ladies — come out of the bushes and set up lawn chairs outside Criseyde's bedroom window. Cassandra is rolled out on a dolly by Pandar and Troilus and trundled downstage. She steps off the dolly, manacled and covered in blood, as she was when she was murdered by Clytemnestra as Agamemnon's enslaved concubine. The men then join the Three Ladies, settle down on their lawn chairs, and make themselves comfortable as they wait for Cassandra to interpret Criseyde's dream. A glass-like bubble, containing rising smoke and beautifully-colored lights, rises over Criseyde as she lies in bed. After putting on sunglasses to shield her eyes from the bright light, Cassandra scrys into it. The assembled faces are dimly lit, waiting to hear what dream Cassandra sees in the bubble.

Engagement (Act Two, Scene 4)

Troilus is pretending to be sick. Pandar tricks Criseyde into coming to see him, and pressures her to let Troilus "serve" her in a secret love relationship. Troilus pledges his undying love to her. She sees his devotion and falls in love. Pandar joins their hands together, and says he will arrange for them to be together in secret at his house.

Guilt (Act Two, Scene 5)

Troilus lies in the dark on his bed; Pandar lies on a bed across the room. Pandar is worried over what people will think of him for pimping his niece to his boss. Troilus, grateful, offers Pandar one of his own sisters.

Consummation (Act Two, Scene 6)

The Three Ladies sneak out of their room to see what's going on. Criseyde is asleep. Without her knowing, Troilus hides in the darkness. Pandar enters Criseyde's bedroom, she wakes, and he bullies her into agreeing to let Troilus enter the room. Troilus appears, Criseyde cries, and feeling himself responsible for Criseyde's distress, he faints. Pandar strips Troilus' clothes off, and throws him onto the bed with Criseyde, telling her to forgive him. Troilus begins to breathe again, and she whispers that she forgives him. Troilus suddenly takes her in his arms, saying that she must now yield to him, that she has no choice. Pandar draws a chair up near the bed, sits, and watches intently as the couple begin to have sex. They caress and sing to each other, promising to be together always. The music mounts to a climax: suddenly Criseyde and the Three Ladies step out of character and joined by Cassandra, come downstage, leaving Troilus spread out in ecstasy on the bed and Pandar staring at the floor in front of him, looking depressed. The women close the scene, telling us that Fortune for a time led these two lovers in joy: Criseyde, and this king's son of Troy.


New York City Opera VOX Festival production (2008)

2008 VOX production: Kerri Marcinko and Alexander Tall

2008 VOX production: Alexander Tall as Troilus

2008 VOX production: Rebecca Ringle and Kerri Marcinko

2008 VOX panel discussion: Yuval Sharon, Sorrel Hays, Charles Flowers, David T. Little, Scott Davenport Richards, Alice Shields, Cary Ratcliff and Steve Potter

2008 VOX production: Alice Shields takes a bow

2008 VOX production: Sharla Nafziger as First Lady, Julianne Borg as Second Lady, Rebecca Ringle as Third Lady and Kerri Marcinko as Criseyde

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