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The Flood: A musical play (1962) is a short biblical drama by Igor Stravinsky on the allegory of Noah, originally written as an opera for television. CBS Television executive Alan Wagner commissioned the work. It is in Stravinsky's late, serial style.

The work was premiered in the United Statesmarker on the CBS Television Network on June 14, 1962, a production conducted by Robert Craft and choreographed by George Balanchine. Robert Craft also conducted the first staged performance, in Hamburgmarker on April 30, 1963.

Stravinsky on The Flood

About the title of the work, Stravinsky wrote: "Why did I call my work The Flood, instead of Noah? Because Noah is mere history. As a genuine antediluvian he is a great curiosity, but a sideshow curiosity. And even as 'eternal man', the second Adam, the – to AugustiniansOld Testament Christ image, he is less important than the 'Eternal Catastrophe'. The Flood is also 'The Bomb'."


The narrative of The Flood juxtaposes the story of the Creation with that of Noah. The text was compiled by Robert Craft using material from Genesis and the York and Chester cycles of mystery plays. Excerpts from the Te Deum are sung by the chorus.


The work is scored for tenor soloist (Lucifer/Satan), two bass soloists (God), several spoken parts (a narrator, Satan, Eve, Noah, a caller, Noah's wife, son of Noah), chorus (SAT) and a large orchestra of 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 cors anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, xylorimba, 3 tom-toms, harp, celesta, piano and strings.

The Flood is published by Boosey & Hawkes.


The work is in seven parts:
  • Prelude
  • Melodrama
  • The building of the Ark (choreography)
  • The catalogue of the animals
  • The comedy (Noah and his wife)
  • The Flood (choreography)
  • The covenant of the rainbow




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