soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone and chamber orchestra

Commission: ECM+, with support from the CCA


Based on a news item: “A distraught woman drowns her sleeping child in a river,” the composer Silvio Palmieri envisioned this drama that has Elia recalling the defining moments that led to her tragic act.

The libretto of this one-act opera is based on various Italian poetic texts. The final third of the work will be presented in the extract you will hear today. It begins immediately after Raffaele’s amorous encounter with Carlo (Dion Mazerolle), who first sings about the irresistible nature of this masculine relationship.

Elia 2 (Sarah Albu) is devastated by the discovery of Carlo’s new reality—she is also carrying his child—and decides to write him a love letter that concludes with Daniele Pieroni’s Psalm of the Waters — O Alga Bruna. Begun by Elia 2, the psalm is finished by Elia 1, (Florence Bourget), at the moment when the murder of her child appears to her to be inevitable.

Carlo arrives too late… In despair, he tries to talk to Elia 1 but gradually descends into deep guilt. Elia 1 will survive by keeping this wound in her forever.


Elia 2: While on an outing, she is seduced by Carlo, who represents everything she’s always longed for: a lover, but above all, a father for the children she wants to have. Elia is portrayed as two characters, each sung by a different soprano:

  • Elia 1, grave and heartbroken by the drama. She is on stage at the start of the opera.
  • Elia 2, light and breezy, a dreamer, before the infanticide.

Carlo: He conceals his homosexuality and uses Elia to fulfill his dream of having a family while continuing his affair with his lover Raffaele.

Elia 1: She discovers Carlo’s lie and takes revenge by drowning their child.