Circe's Power


A Note

Listen Now to Trudy Craney and Martin Hennessy

Circe's Power 2006 revised 2018

Seven Songs for Soprano and Piano


1. Nude Descending a Staircase (X.J. Kennedy)

2. Trail All Your Pikes (Anne Finch)

3. Stay me with flagons (Song of Solomon)

4. The More Loving One (W.H. Auden)

5. Question (May Swenson)

6. A Note (William Carlos Williams)

7. Circe’s Power (Louis Glück)



This cycle was commissioned by soprano, Trudy Craney, in 2006 and revised in 2018 after which we gave the belated but rollicking world premiere on Feb 15, 2019 at the National Opera Center in New York City.

Program notes:

I wanted the cycle to be a feminist statement showcasing the range, power, beauty and acrobatic agility of the soprano voice in varied texts from dramatic to comic to embody a “she” who is liberated, outspoken yet, witty and vulnerable.

In his vertiginously comic poem, Nude Descending a Staircase, X. J. Kennedy describes Marcel Du Champ’s outrageous cubist painting of female flesh hurtling through space in time-lapse motion.

Trail All Your Pikes is a fiercely defiant anti-war poem penned by 17th century British poet, Anne Finch.

In these highly erotic lines, Stay me with Flagons from Song of Solomon, sensual and spiritual longing converge. To me it suggests the raw, unfettered power of woman before Christianity and Western civilization. (A flagon is a cake of pressed raisins.)

In The More Loving One the pains of unrequited love lead to greater philosophical inquiry. In Question, the poet expresses an urgent curiosity about death and experiences anticipatory nostalgia for her body.

The speaker in A Note confesses to a mischievous meal ‘the morning after’ and hints at the residue of carnal pleasure.
Glück reimagines the Odyssey as a contemporary love story.

In Circe’s Power, the sorceress tells her own story and her perspective is refreshingly feminist and 21st century.                                                               


 ---Martin Hennessy


Nude Descending a Staircase

Stay me with flagons

Trail All Your Pikes

The More Loving One