Riders to the Sea synopsis
Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Libretto by the composer after John Millington Synge’s play
First performed: 1937
Maurya has lost her husband and four sons to the sea. The fifth son, Michael, has gone missing and is supposed dead. Some items of clothing have been found on the shore. Suspecting they might be Michael’s, Nora and Cathleen, Maurya’s daughters, hide them from her. Despite an impending storm, Bartley, the youngest son, intends to take two horses by sea to the Galway Fair, dismissing his mother’s pleas to remain at home. Nora and Cathleen reproach their mother for denying Bartley her blessing and persuade her to take him some food for the journey. While she is gone, the sisters confirm the clothing is indeed Michael’s. Maurya returns, distressed: she has seen a vision of the dead Michael riding behind her Bartley. She realizes that what she saw means that Bartley, too, will drown.
Bartley’s body is brought in. Maurya names all she has lost and is finally released from her grief.
Back to full list
Already a member?
Sign in now to access the members only area
Not a member?
Join now to receive priority booking, invitations to dress rehearsals and members-only events and much more.