The Yellow Sofa (2009)

Project Summary

A new opera in the 2009 Festival by composer-in-residence, Julian Philips, with a libretto by Edward Kemp directed by Frederic Wake-Walker.
Performed by members of the Glyndebourne Chorus in the Jerwood Studio before selected performances at the 2009 Glyndebourne Festival. It was revived for Tour in 2012.


Godofredo Alves runs a small business in Lisbon in the last decades of the 19th century. His life is ordered and well-managed, its only inexplicable feature is the yellow sofa that he once bought his wife, Ludovina.

One day in summer, Godofredo’s business partner, Machado, leaves work early; he encourages Godofredo to do the same, go off to see a show, enjoy himself. After Machado has left, Godofredo realises that he and Ludovina have forgotten their wedding anniversary. He races home and finds Ludovina and Machado in a compromising position upon the yellow sofa. Machado leaves, godofredo seeks an explanation from Ludovina, and when she cannot provide one, he packs her off to stay with her father.

Neto, Ludovina’s father, comes to see Godofredo. Neto negotiates a spell out of the city beside the sea for himself, Ludovina and her sister Teresa until the affair blows over.

Meanwhile Godofredo, alone with the yellow sofa, plans how to get retribution for his wounded honour. He confronts Machado, insisting that one of them must die. Machado laughs off Godofredo’s plan.

Godofredo takes stock with the yellow sofa. He turns for support to his friends Carvalho and Medeiros. Neither is overly enthusiastic about Godofredo’s plan, but in the name of honour they agree to act as his seconds.

In a darkened room Godofredo waits as Carvalho and Medeiros discuss the situation with Machado’s second, Nunes Vidal. His torment grows.
Finally the seconds emerge with the solution.

After the summer is over, Godofredo and Ludovina meet by chance outside the opera house.

2009 Premiere Cast

Amarela Martha Bredin
Godofredo Alves Michael Wallace
Machado David Webb
Ludovina Elizabeth Llewellyn
Margarida Ciara Hendrick
Neto Philip Shakesby
Teresa Rhian Lewis
Carvalho Callum Thorpe
Medeiros Ciprian Droma
Nunes Vidal Adrian Ward

Creative Team

Composer Julian Philips
Librettist Edward Kemp
Conductor Leo McFall
Director Frederic Wake-Walker