The Yellow Sofa
This is a story of love and loss, of betrayal and deception, of sex and a city, of wounded pride and attempted retribution – of plumply inviting sofa cushions.
Godofredo is naturally indolent, adequately successful in his working life and quite happy with his seemingly comfortable marriage to Ludovina. When he discovers her in an extremely compromising position on his favourite yellow sofa with his business partner Machado, he doesn’t know how to react but knows he must do something. His honour has been off ended, he will have to challenge Machado to a duel, but he would much prefer life to return to normal.
A new opera written specially for Glyndebourne by our first Composer-in-Residence Julian Philips, with a text by Edward Kemp, it is based on a short story by Eça de Queirós. Writing about Lisbon’s bourgeois society towards the end of the 19th century, Queirós is a shrewd observer of the human condition and writes with an intriguing mix of gentle satire and wry humour. All of this is reflected in the music, which also draws on the rich tradition of Portuguese folk song.
An original Glyndebourne commission, first presented as part of the Jerwood Chorus Development Scheme during the 2009 Festival, the cast features past and present members of the Glyndebourne Chorus.
"Not to be missed." Rated four stars by The Times.
Godofredo Alves runs a small business in Lisbon in the last decades of the 19th century. His life is ordered and well-managed, its only inexplicable feature is the yellow sofa that he once bought his wife, Ludovina.
One day in summer, Godofredo’s business partner, Machado, leaves work early; he encourages Godofredo to do the same, go off to see a show, enjoy himself. After Machado has left, Godofredo realises that he and Ludovina have forgotten their wedding anniversary. He races home and finds Ludovina and Machado in a compromising position upon the yellow sofa. Machado leaves, Godofredo seeks a explanation from Ludovina, and when she cannot provide one, he packs her off to stay with her father.
Neto, Ludovina’s father, comes to see Godofredo. Neto negotiates a spell out of the city beside the sea for himself, Ludovina and her sister Teresa until the affair blows over.
Meanwhile Godofredo, alone with the yellow sofa, plans how to get retribution for his wounded honour. He confronts Machado, insisting that one of them must die. Machado laughs off Godofredo’s plan.
Godofredo takes stock with the yellow sofa. He turns for support to his friends Carvalho and Medeiros. Neither is overly enthusiastic about Godofredo’s plan, but in the name of honour they agree to act as his seconds.
In a darkened room Godofredo waits as Carvalho and Medeiros discuss the situation with Machado’s second, Nunes Vidal. His torment grows.
Finally the seconds emerge with the solution.
After the summer is over, Godofredo and Ludovina meet by chance outside the opera house.
Words: Edward Kemp
Conductor Gareth Hancock
Director Frederic Wake-Walker
Designer Kitty Callister
Lighting Designer Andrew May
Amarela Lauren Easton
Godofredo Alves Michael Wallace
Machado Andrew Dickinson
Ludovina (Lulu) Gabriela Iştoc
Margarida Sioned Gwen Davies
Neto Alexander Robin Baker
Teresa Charlotte Beament
Carvalho Benjamin Cahn
Medeiros Frederick Long
Nunes Vidal Gareth Huw John
The Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra