“Having greatly enjoyed working with Philip Glass on my first libretto (based on J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians), I was delighted when he asked me to work on a second, this time an original. However, when he said the subject he had in mind was the final week of the Civil War, I was forced to admit I knew next to nothing about the subject. He seemed pleased. That’s what he wanted, he said, an objective outsider’s view.
Philip’s thought was that the principal protagonists in the war—Grant, Lee and, in the background, President Lincoln—had all behaved in an exceptionally civilised way. He wanted to make an implicit critical contrast between this and the botched and vindictive manner in which these matters have been conducted in our own era. Read more