The Pirate Moon


Opera in 2 acts for 12 singers and orchestra

Libretto by Anna-Maria dell’Oso

The Pirate Moon was commissioned for the singing students of Anthea Moller, to celebrate the opening of the new music building at the Auckland University School of Music. The premiere took place there in 1986 conducted by John Elmsly.

About the work

Early in 1985, I was asked to write this chamber opera for the singing students and an ensemble consisting of the staff and students of the School of Music. It is in 2 acts, set in the world of the Futuries, with a prologue and epilogue set on a west coast beach.

The choice of subject in an area bordering on science fiction was dictated by the fact that the majority of singers were women, and I wanted to stay away from stereotypical themes.

I gave an abstract story line based on 2 ideas to the librettist — a story concerning the encounter with a UFO on a west coast beach by a young couple, and the other, a theme I’ve often worked with, the misunderstandings that arise between groups of different cultures or beliefs.

Anna dell’Oso, who was at the time looking into women’s mythology, drew on 2 quotations, one from Plutarch, ‘This is … an oracle shared by Night and the Moon …The voice was the Sibyl’s … who sang of the future as she was carried about on the face of the moon’, and the other from Macbeth ‘You can look into the seeds of time, and say which will grow and which will not.’


There are 3 main roles for mezzo-soprano, baritone and soprano, with 7 minor principals (mainly women) who double as a small SATB chorus.


The Pirate Moon is scored for: flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, keyboards, percussion (3 players), tape and strings.


Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

The Pirate Moon — SOUNZ