The current production has a libretto by Paul Bentley who wrote the libretto for the new opera, The Handmaids Tale, based on a novel by Margaret Atwood. Bentleys version is based on an 18th Century Irish poem by Brian Merriman a.k.a Mac Giolla Meidhre. Merrimans poem is in the form of an aisling an early Gaelic literary genre associated with the themes of love and sovereignty in which the poet wanders forth and meets a fairy woman who engages him in a dialogue. This theme and form, which are also found in Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream, establish forcefully in our current production that sovereignty in love belongs to women.
The music by the Montreal composer Ana Sokolovic is free and liberating in its playfulness. The orchestral and vocal parts blend in a satisfying musicality that never lapses. To find comparable pleasures one would have to go to the Weill/Brecht partnership and German language productions of The Seven Deadly Sins, and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The direction and design team work of Michael Cavanaugh and Michael Gianfrancesco is always wakeful, and even the curtain gets into the opening act as its wiggled by faeries to attract the dreaming poet, or acts as the screen on which monstrous shadow figures cavort to intimidate him.