2005 – Roger Waters – Ça Ira

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Roger Waters - Ca Ira (Opera)

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Track listing: Disc one

Act One

01. The Gathering Storm
02. Overture
03. Scene 1: A Garden in Vienna 1765
04. Madame Antoine, Madame Antoine
05. Scene 2: Kings Sticks and Birds
06. Honest Bird, Simple Bird
07. I Want to Be King
08. Let Us Break All the Shields
09. Scene 3: The Grievances of the People
010. Scene 4: France in Disarray
011. To Laugh is to Know How to Live
012. Slavers, Landlords, Bigots at Your Door
013. Scene 5: The Fall of the Bastille
014. To Freeze in the Dead of Night
015. So to the Streets in the Pouring Rain

Act Two

01. Scene 1: Dances and Marches
02. Now Hear Ye!
03. Flushed With Wine
04. Scene 2: The Letter
05. My Dear Cousin Bourbon of Spain
06. The Ship of State is All at Sea
07. Scene 3: Silver Sugar and Indigo
08. To The Windward Isles
09. Scene 4: The Papal Edict
010. In Paris There’s a Rumble Under the Ground

Track listing: Disc two

Act Three

01. Scene 1: The Fugitive King
02. But the Marquis of Boulli Has a Trump Card Up His Sleeve
03. To Take Your Hat Off
04. The Echoes Never Fade from That Fusillade
05. Scene 2: The Commune de Paris
06. Vive la Commune de Paris
07. The National Assembly is Confused
08. Scene 3: The Execution of Louis Capet
09. Adieu Louis for You It’s Over
10. Scene 4: Marie Antoinette – The Last Night on Earth
11. Adieu My Good and Tender Sister
12. Scene 5: Liberty
13. And in the Bushes Where They Survive

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Ça Ira (French for “That’ll do”, translated here as There is Hope) is an opera in three acts by Roger Waters to a French libretto by Étienne Roda-Gil and his wife Nadine Roda-Gil, based on the historical subject of the French Revolution. The first recording was released September 26, 2005, featuring Bryn Terfel, Huang Ying, and Paul Groves.

The opera takes its name from a song from the French Revolution. Waters did not use the original lyrics (circa 1790, allegedly from a street singer called Ladré), but its spirit remains. The best-known performances of the song were recorded (and sung live) by Édith Piaf, with an alternate version of the words.

Miscellaneous Information

The work had a long gestation period. Waters, better known for his work in the rock band Pink Floyd, was approached by the Roda-Gils in 1987 to set their libretto. The initial version was completed and recorded by the end of 1988. After hearing it, François Mitterrand was suitably impressed and urged the Paris Opera to stage it for the bicentennial of the revolution the following July. The opera directors, however, were resistant, apparently, according to Waters, because “I was English, and I had been in a pop group.” The project was shelved until 1995, when Waters began reworking the material for a professional recording and the premiere performance.


The first time Ça Ira was heard was in Malta on May 1, 2004 , the night that Malta entered the European Union. An approximately 15 minute long excerpt was heard by 80,000 people present at the waterfront of the Grand Harbour. The music was accompanied by a light show by Gert Hoff.

So far, there have been two concert performances of Ça Ira in Rome and one full production in Poznań. The premiere took place in Rome on November 17, 2005 in front of a sold-out crowd, and was followed the next evening by another performance. Both shows were praised for the high quality of music, vocal performances, and sound. The choir, orchestra, and soloists were complemented by a projection screen backdrop which displayed images (some photographed by Mark Holthusen) helping to tell the story.

A full operatic performance took place on 25 August 2006 in Poznań, Poland, and was televised live on Poland’s TVP. It sold out.  The project involved the same number of musicians from the concert performances in addition to more than 200 dancers from the Great Theatre in Poznań. There were also period elements of stage design (such as horses, carriages and war scenes with soldiers and stunt performers) and full costumes. Over 500 artists were involved, and the production reportedly cost in excess of €2 million. The musicians will tour the show, with the assistance of local artists, in Beijing, Tokyo and possibly Moscow.

Performances were held in Kiev on December 16, and at the Poznań Opera House on December 30 and 31. , In April 2008, the opera was performed, with the libretto in English, as part of the Festival Amazonas de Ópera in Manaus, Brazil.

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