Mary’s Hand

for mezzo-soprano with three instrumentalists

--- Martin Bussey

🔍 Preview Score
Logged-in user discounts applied
Log in to get discounts (now or at checkout)
Ask us about multi-copy choral discounts


for mezzo-soprano with three instrumentalists

Ask about this work
Composer Martin Bussey
Year of Composition 2018
Duration -

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-mb2mh1


Mary’s Hand presents Mary Tudor, first Queen of England to rule in her own right. Mary’s strong Roman Catholicism, and the persecution of Protestants which marked her reign, have distorted perception of a strong-willed woman who also loved dancing, fine clothes and gambling.

This work redresses the balance and takes as its starting point Mary’s love of cards, identifying the principal figures in Mary’s life with the suits of cards: Hearts, Clubs, Spades and Diamonds.

Mary’s Hand was a creative collaboration between the composer, Martin Bussey, the librettist, Di Sherlock and the singer, Clare McCaldin with much development of the original ideas taking place during rehearsal.

Di Sherlock has given the following introduction:

Mary invites the audience to help her tell her story in a game of cards.
The cards (Court Cards – Royals only!) represent the key players in her life.
For the piece to begin the audience must choose a card.
The choice of that and subsequent cards determines the order in which she will sing her story.
Consequently the libretto is non-linear.
So that music and narrative may flow with the audience interaction there are two ‘arcs’:
Hearts and Spades (plus Jack of Clubs) and Diamonds.
In addition there are five ‘stand alone’ cards: Joker, King of Clubs, Queen of Clubs,
Ace of Hearts, and Jack of Hearts.
The Jack of Hearts is the final card to be played and segues into the Epilogue.

The spoken ‘segues’ between movements, inviting the audience to choose a card, are given at the back of the score. All interaction with the audience must be ‘in character’.

Mary’s Hand is written for Mezzo-Soprano with three instrumentalists. In the original performances, all the instrumentalists were female, representing Mary’s ‘Ladies’.

It is designed to be performed without a conductor. Individual instruments ‘lead’, as directed in the score. Overall control of the performance is guided by the singer. Spoken text is notated in boxed text and should be co-ordinated with the music.

The official premiere of Mary’s Hand was on August 1 201 8 in Holy Cross Church, London as part of Tete-a-Tete Opera.