Abgesang (Dafne-Fragment) for mezzosoprano, violin, viola and percussion (2005)

Text: Martin Opitz, Auf den Abschied einer edelen Jungfrawen (ca. 1624)

2 (Mezzo)Sopranos (or Sopran and Clarinet), Violin, Viola, Percussion (1 Player)

Publishing: Schott Music

Duration: ca. 5′

FP: July 15, 2005, Ligerz/Schweiz

Further performances:
April 12, 2006, Heidelberg (Festival Heidelberger Frühling), ensemble courage, Cond.: Titus Engel – German premiere –



Abgesang (Dafne-Fragment) is a concert version of the penultimate scene from my chamber opera Dafne based on the famous libretto by Martin Opitz (1626). After Dafne’s ‚metamorphosis‘ (i.e. her deadly change in to a laurel tree), two sopranos – the former Dafne and Venus – sing a light, sad ‚swan song‘. The text originates from an earlier collection of Opitz‘ poems. In the (equivalent) version for one soprano, a clarinet takes over the part of the other singer. This enforces in a way the Abgesang-Charakter of the piece – the woodwind instrument embodies the mute, wooden Dafne.

The following attempt to translate the text (approximately shown as it is used in the composition) is only a free adaptation, as it is hardly possible to transfer the richness of the baroque German into adequate English.

Martin Opitz, Valediction to a Noble Virgin (ca. 1624)

Like as in summer time / when all is blithely blooming /
And one sees woods / field / mount and dale rejuvenate /
Above all flowers‘ band / of any kind and sort /
The gentle lily shows tenderly her shine.
Here glints
[her white dress … above all flowers … heart and mind … her lovely flavour …you, white lily … you image of all virtues…]
at her the dulcet wind of love The sharp northern wind /
Soon comes sharp wind from north all unhoped-for and booming
ago across the field / soughs / howls / and sings and wheezes /
And boisterously takes the lily far away /
The gentle figure (…)
The green field (…)
The other flowers (…)
The bees are flying (…) by sorrow and dolour
now here now there
You die (…) A coffin’s all you get (…)
[axes] the grim / grim death your rapid life.
[But you are now … out of this world … torn away from earthly need … into the grave]
I flow far in the sea (…)