Simon Armitage was never a great fan of opera â€” so writing a libretto was a steep learning curve. But, he says, hearing his words take second place to the music was a liberating experience. He tells about writing the libretto for Stuart MacRae’s new opera The Assassin Tree (which has its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival on 25th August) in this fascinating article in the Guardian Unlimited Arts section. He begins like this:
It was Craig Raine who said that librettists are to opera what toilets are to theatres. So when someone from the Edinburgh festival asked if I’d be interested in writing the words for a newly commissioned opera, I hesitated. I’ve never thought of what I do as a mere functional necessity and, despite having the surname Armitage, I don’t take kindly to being pissed on.