Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

‘The rain soaked sky is leaden’: Welsh identity and dystopian impulses in The Doctor of Myddfai

Jones, Nicholas ORCID: 2023. ‘The rain soaked sky is leaden’: Welsh identity and dystopian impulses in The Doctor of Myddfai. Cambridge Opera Journal 35 (1) , pp. 75-105. 10.1017/S0954586723000046

[thumbnail of the-rain-soaked-sky-is-leaden-welsh-identity-and-dystopian-impulses-in-the-doctor-of-myddfai.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


The Doctor of Myddfai (1995), Peter Maxwell Davies's third full-scale opera and his first collaboration with David Pountney, is a work that occupies an important position within the composer's output for the opera house and theatre. However, whereas a significant amount of scholarly attention has been afforded to Davies's music-theatre works of the 1960s and the operas Taverner (1962–8) and Resurrection (1986–7), The Doctor of Myddfai has been somewhat neglected by comparison. This article examines the opera from two perspectives. The first addresses the work's dystopian setting and argues that key issues highlighted in the libretto – especially in relation to certain political concerns and environmental anxieties – have a strong contemporary resonance. The second focuses on the opera's articulation of Welsh identity, particularly through the use of Welsh folklore, native landscape and place, and indigenous musical signifiers. The intersection of these two elements – the work's celebration of Welshness and its dystopian qualities – imbues the opera with an intrinsic yet highly productive sense of tension and opposition: characteristics that drive the work towards its compelling conclusion.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0954-5867
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 1 December 2021
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 14:08

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics