Riot Ensemble: LAVINIA by Errollyn Wallen

Stephen Upshaw, Viola

My new work for solo viola was inspired by the character of Lavinia, daughter of Latinus and Amata and the last wife of Aeneas the Trojan hero. Lavinia appears as a minor character in Virgil’s The Aeneas. In my most recent opera, Dido’s Ghost, the sequel to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (and which also folds the Purcell opera into my own) Lavinia is a central character.

The opera begins with Anna, sister of Dido, saved narrowly from drowning after a shipwreck off Lavinium, where Aeneas and Lavinia live. Aeneas is fascinated and haunted by the resemblance of Anna to Dido and immediately the seeds of jealousy are sewn in Lavinia who plots Anna’s death.

Composing this piece for Stephen Upshaw was a wonderful way of contemplating Lavinia in a different work. The viola perfectly captures the spirit of Lavinia which is sung by a mezzo soprano in my opera.

In LAVINIA, my music seeks to convey the overwhelming and consuming nature of jealousy which most often grows out of pain at the prospect of loss. Towards the end of the piece we hear some notes from Lavinia’s aria from my opera, Dido’s Ghost.

Errollyn Wallen

February 2021, Strathy Point


A commission from Riot Ensemble during the COVID19 pandemic.

Video Recorded by Intone Films Audio Recording and AV Post Production by Aaron Holloway-Nahum

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Riot Ensemble: LAVINIA by Errollyn Wallen

Stephen Upshaw, Viola

Date recorded:Fri 23 Apr
Performers:Stephen Upshaw
Composers:Errollyn Wallen
Genres:Classical, Contemporary

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