Lloyd: Iernin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Albany
WORKS: Iernin
PERFORMER: Marilyn Hill Smith, Claire Powell, Geoffrey Pogson, Henry Herford, Malcolm RiversBBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra/George Lloyd
George Lloyd’s Iernin (1933-4) was a highly esteemed opera in its day. It tells of a Celtic faery maiden,Iernin, turned to stone at the dawn of Christianity for her love of a mortal man. She returns to life in the 10th century to love a Celtic nobleman who, entranced, deserts his own wedding for her.


Iernin is a remarkably self-assured work for a 19-year-old, even if the invention is sometimes uneven and the orchestral writing thin in parts. But there are many notable moments including the multi-part choral writing for ‘The Giant of Carn Galva’ and the magical closing chorus, ‘The Moon is on the Hills’. In fact the whole of the final scene, in which Iernin sacrifices her love so that Gerent can return to his duty, is impressive. Marilyn Hill Smith, in a taxing role, brings the tragic Iernin vividly to life and Claire Powell is a strong, conciliatory Cunaide; her lovely aria ‘The Spell is Past’ is reminiscent of Puccini in its Romantic intensity. Geoffrey Pogson is heroic and authoritative as Gerent and Henry Herford commanding in his foreboding yet noble Act I aria ‘What Danger has the Sparkling Tide’. Well worth exploring. Ian Lace