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Radio ›› Three Cities in the Life of Dr Norman Bethune

This chamber opera for voice, electric guitar, piano, percussion, saxophones, string quartet and tape has been performed in Montréal (2003) and Toronto (2005). It tells the life of the Canadian doctor and humanitarian Norman Bethune (1890-1939).

Interweaving extracts from Bethune’s own letters with poetry of the 1930s, Three Cities in the Life of Dr. Norman Bethune explores the psychological and social elements that propelled Bethune to leave his comfortable life in Montréal to fight with the Republican International Brigade in Spain in 1936, and finally to join the Chinese Army in early 1938. The work follows Bethune through three cities over the course of 5 years in one of the most turbulent eras of 20th century history as he seeks to make sense of the world, to fight for what he believes in, and to confront his own mortality.

Track Listing

    • 1
      Scene 1 — Montréal (2005)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      18m00s
      • 1
        prelude: Three Cities: You Must Remember (Pai-Chou-En) poem, To Pony, Aug. 31, 1935 and letter, Oct. 8, 1935 (N. Bethune); poem: To Pony, Aug. 31, 1935 and letter, Oct. 8, 1935 (N. Bethune)
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      • 2
        poem, An Immigrant (Dorothy Livesay, Montreal)
        • 2.0
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      • 3
        Incantation 1, letter, Nov. 6, 1935 (N. Bethune)
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      • 4
        poem, Depression Suite (Dorothy Livesay, Montreal)
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      • 5
        letter, Oct. 8, 1935 (N. Bethune)
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
    • 6
      Scene 2 — Madrid (2005)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      17m40s
      • 6
        prelude: El Segador (songs from the Spanish Civil War)
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      • 7
        poem, The Defense of Madrid, the Defense of Catalonia, (Rafael Alberti, Madrid)
        • 2.0
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      • 8
        The Evacuation of Malaga, pamphlet, Feb. 7, 1937 (N. Bethune)
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      • 9
        poem, I Come from Cuatro Caminos, Jan. 1937 (N. Bethune)
        • 2.0
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    • 10
      Scene 3 — Chin Ch’a Chi (now: Shanxi-Charhar-Hobei) (2005)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      12m31s
      • 10
        prelude
        • 2.0
          • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      • 11
        poem, Untitled (Lu Xun, China)
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      • 12
        Incantation 2, letter, Aug. 15, 1939 (N. Bethune)
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      • 13
        poem, Autumn 1939, (Dorothy Livesay, Montreal)
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      • 14
        reprise, letters, Aug. 15, 1939 and July 1, 1939 (N. Bethune)
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      • 15
        final letter, Nov. 11, 1939 (N. Bethune)
        • 2.0
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Total duration: 48m12s