The Knife of Dawn

Hannah Kendall

Tessa McWatt

Performance forces:
bar — harp, vln, vla, vc — 2 sop, alt



A chamber opera in one act, ‘The Knife of Dawn’ is based on the story of Guyanese political activist and poet Martin Carter. It is set in his prison cell towards the end of a hunger strike in 1953. He was incarcerated without charge. In Carter’s own words, he had been fighting for and was wholly ‘…dedicated to the winning of liberation from a foreign country.’ Great Britain. Carter is considered one of the leading Caribbean writers, and Hannah also set six of his own incredibly lyrical and evocative poems. These works have been drawn together by McWatt’s libretto, four of which are also a stand-alone song cycle for baritone.  As a British composer of Caribbean/Guyanese decent, Hannah wanted the opportunity to highlight Guyana’s significance within the UK’s history, drawing on cultural, political and social issues still very relevant today.