Marie Curie Learns to Swim (2018)
Instrumentation: 1 Soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, 1 baritone, flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
Text by: Kendra Preston Leonard
Availability: Contact me for performance materials and licensing information
Circa 1926, Irène Curie has persuaded her mother to vacation at the seashore. Marie begs Irène to return to Paris to continue working. Irène tries to distract her by teaching her to swim. As Marie floats in the water, her thoughts turn to her relationship with Pierre Curie and their life’s work. Later, when learning how to swim through a big wave, Marie recalls the scandal that surrounded her nomination to the French Academy of Sciences and relives her triumph over French politics when she won her second Nobel Prize. Throughout their interactions, Irène struggles to articulate her fear that radium is making them ill. In the end, Marie refuses to listen, and the women continue their uneasy vacation.