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IN A TALE FROM THE AGE OF LEGEND, THE MOST CHIVALROUS KING OF THE MIDDLE-AGES – KING RICHARD I THE LION HEART – HAS BEEN CAPTURED BY THE VENGEFUL DUKE LEOPOLD OF AUSTRIA, AND IMPRISONED IN THE FOREBODING CASTLE DÜRNSTEIN WHERE HE MUST COMPETE IN FEATS OF STRENGTH WITH THE OAFISH WALO, RESIST THE AFFECTIONS OF THE FAIR MIRELLA, AND SURVIVE A LION-HEARTED CHALLENGE.
CAN HE ENDURE LONG ENOUGH TO BE FOUND BY HIS LOYAL BARD?
"In the Lion Heart, culled from Medieval legend, Kyle McDonald conjures a tale in lush, classical poetry that ennobles, but also seems fresh and contemporary, with characters that we at once recognize in our lives today: the cheeky dare-devil, the sensitive soul, the braggart, and the overbearing parent. The English libretto is meticulously shaped to offer maximal drama with minimal bloat, and gallops with grace without sacrificing form as the heroic King is captured, imprisoned, and forced to confront a rabid lion – and the consequences of his own daring.
Corey Arnold's score, arranged for 16 instruments, is carefully calibrated to offer the most expansive and flexible sound with the least effort, and draws on the most successful and far-reaching contemporary musical influences found in film and video games. With an astonishing sensitivity to the subtleties of the human love of melody and harmony, he’s created a soundscape that’s sure to leave audiences humming all the way home."
RICHARD I the Lion-Heart........................................................Bass
BLONDEL de Nesles, Richard’s troubadour..............................Tenor
LEOPOLD, an Austrian Duke.....................................................Tenor
MIRELLA, his daughter..............................................................Soprano
WALO, his loutish son................................................................Baritone
CAPTAIN of the guards..............................................................Bass or Baritone
Male CHORUS, soldiers of the Duke
The action takes place at castle Dürstein in Austria, 1193.
Listen and download
download PIANO-VOCAL SCORE
Violin x 2
Cello x 2
*Orchestral parts available upon request
The dashing troubadour, Blondel de Nesles, enters singing a heroic song "True Love Descends Upon the Brave." He’s trying to locate his lost master, King Richard the Lion Hearted King of England! He hears no answer and continues his search across Europe.
Act I – Courtyard of the Castle Dürnstein
The castle’s soldiers flood onto the stage: a new prisoner has been captured and is being brought to Castle Dürnstein! "Attention! Attention!". The Captain tells them that the newcomer is indeed the captured King Richard, recently returned from the Crusades. Richard is brought before Duke Leopold, his son Walo, and his daughter Mirella. Leopold accuses Richard of many crimes committed in the Holy Land, all of which Richard refutes "At Last You Proud and Pompous King." This turns into a full ensemble fugal movement where the ensemble accuses, and Richard denies, "To Pawn my Honour Is Defeat." Leopold remains unconvinced, and orders Richard to be imprisoned in his quarters. Mirella, alone, admits her confused feelings for the newcomer, "O Mirella!."
Act II – Richard’s Chamber
Having conducted the King to his chamber, Walo says his brutish strength makes him invulnerable to fear "Say Walo Then Instead of Dread." He challenges Richard to a game of Pluck-Buffett where punches are exchanged until someone is knocked over. Richard accepts! Walo winds up and hammers the King, who manages to remain standing. Walo says it’s the King’s turn, but Richard, tired from his travels, requests food and wine, that he may rest and take his strike in the morning. Walo obliges and leaves him.
The soldiers stand anxious with swords drawn as they watch over Richard. He assures them that they he is like them: a soldier born and bred, and that they have no need to fear his assaults (You Have No Need to Draw On Me). They sheathe their swords. Mirella comes in and dismisses the soldiers. Intimidated by the great King, she speaks little until he urges her to tell him about herself. She speaks of her desires to escape this castle but admits she’s too afraid, "How I Tire of These Castle Walls." She asks Richard to tell her about his adventures so that her heart may be steeled. Richard recounts the many perils and adventures he encountered in the Holy Land, "Harken Maiden, and Behold!" Mirella, caught up in the excitement, helps him tell the story, gaining confidence with every phrase. At the conclusion of his tale, Richard solemnly declares that it was hope that kept fear at bay.
Walo returns looking for his sister, and Richard requests a candle. Walo obliges again, and leaves with Mirella. Richard melts the candle, coating his hand in wax so that he can give the ox-like Walo a good punch in the morning "The Hand My Enemies Despised." He then goes to sleep. Just after, Blondel comes in search of his master, but his songs fall on sleeping hears, and he moves on, "What Better Way to Win the Heart".
Act III – The Great Hall
Walo enters looking for Richard, eager to resume the contest; Richard enters escorted by the Captain and his soldiers, ready to swing. Richard strikes Walo, but accidentally kills him! The Duke enters to discover his son has been slain, and sentences Richard to be put in a pit to fight a rabid lion! "Hear Thy Certain Doom."
Richard is hurled into the pit and fights the lion while the others watch. He’s eventually tripped by the lion, and ends up cornered. Beaten, he succumbs to despair, when Mirella reminds him that hope defeats fear! Emboldened, Richard fights back, stuns the lion, then reaches down the lion’s maw and tears out its heart! He holds up the heart triumphantly as he returns before the Duke, where he dares him to offer another challenge, "Come, Challenge Me Again!" Then he takes a bite out of the heart and spits it at Leopold. Leopold promises the King endless torments, "Today You Are Victorious", then leaves. The Captain requests forgiveness for failing to act, then leaves with his soldiers "Noble Palmer." Richard apologizes to Mirella for the death of Walo, and, having forgiven him for the accident, she confesses her love for him, "I Used to Want to Be a Saint." He gently declines her invitation because he’s married. Rejected, she leaves crushed and humiliated.
Richard, alone, wrestles with despair and laments his inevitable doom, "The Sun Has Set." And, just when he’s reached the bottom, he hears Blondel’s singing: is it madness? To find out, he sings back. Blondel enters and completes the phrase: it’s really him! They sing together ,"The Struggles Of the Day Are Done," and Blondel leaves, promising to tell their friends of the King’s whereabouts. The Lion Heart will fight another day!