About the piece

The Return of Silence is an adaptation of a portion of the thirteenth century Roman de Silence by Heldris of Cornwall. The oratorio focuses on a single episode in the story: Silence, a woman raised as a man, returns to her parents, the Count and Countess of Cornwall after running away to become a minstrel only to find that all minstrels have been banished on pain of death.

The Romance de Silence uses both the masculine and feminine pronouns for the protagonist in order to illustrate the perception of her gender by others and by herself and I have preserved this aspect in the libretto. The tune that Silence plays for the crowd on her viele at the end of scene one is a variation on the only trobaritz (female troubadour) tune which survives with notation; “A chantar” by the Comtesse de Dia.



Oratorio for soprano, tenor, two baritones, chorus, and string orchestra


20 minutes

year written

2006, revised 2009

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