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L'Amour de loin 2002

July 27 - August 9, 2002

This haunting score captivates audiences…

…as the medieval troubadour is transformed by his idealized love for Clémence, whom he has never met.

Music By
Kaija Saariaho
Libretto By
Amin Maalouf


Act I

Jaufré Rudel, troubadour and Prince of Blaye, is tired of the life of pleasure led by young people of his rank. He aspires to a different kind of love – an idealized and distant love – which he accepts may never be fulfilled. A chorus of his old companions reproaches him for his change of heart and makes fun of him. He tells them that the woman whom he loves does not exist. But a Pilgrim, arrived from the Christian kingdom of Outre-mer, confirms that she does exist. Jaufré becomes obsessed with her.

Act II

Returning to the East, the Pilgrim meets Clémence, the Countess of Tripoli, and tells her that in the West a troubadour-prince celebrates her in his songs, calling her his ‘distant love.’ Initially offended, the lady begins to dream about this strange, faraway lover, but also asks herself whether she merits such devotion.


Returning to Blaye, the Pilgrim meets Jaufré and admits to him that the lady now knows that he sings about her, which causes the troubadour to decide to go to her himself. Clémence, for her part, seems to prefer their relationship to remain a distant one.

Act IV

Now on board ship, Jaufré is impatient to find his ‘distant love’ but at the same time dreads their meeting. He regrets having set off on impulse and his anxiety is such that he falls ill, getting steadily worse as he approaches Tripoli. He arrives dying.

Act V

When the boat reaches shore, the Pilgrim goes to warn Clémence that Jaufré has arrived, but that he is mortally ill, and that he wishes to see her. The troubadour arrives at Tripoli’s citadel unconscious, carried on a stretcher. In the presence of the woman he has hymned in his songs, he gradually regains his senses. The two ‘distant lovers’ then meet, embrace and promise to love each other. When Jaufré dies in her arms, Clémence rails against heaven, then, holding herself responsible for what has occurred, decides to enter a convent. The final scene shows her at prayer, but her words are ambiguous and it is unclear whether she is kneeling in prayer to her distant God, or to her ‘distant love.’


Dawn Upshaw headshot

Dawn Upshaw



Gerald Finley headshot

Gerald Finley


Jaufré Rudel

Monica Groop headshot

Monica Groop


The Pilgrim

Robert Spano headshot

Robert Spano


Peter Sellars headshot

Peter Sellars


George Tsypin headshot

George Tsypin

Scenic Designer

Martin Pakledinaz headshot

Martin Pakledinaz

Costume Designer

James Ingalls headshot

James F. Ingalls

Lighting Designer

Robert Wood headshot

Robert Wood

Chorus Master