This CD has been out of circulation for so many years, I know because I lost it after a move and have been trying to find it. Well the people at NMC have stepped to late to ensure that Gramophone award winning recording will never be deleted from it's titles.
The opera is explicitly explained by the libretto writer Steven Pruslin who was puzzled by the numerous differing explainations of the opera after the premier. He explains that he wanted to expore the schizoid human nature that is capable of excesses of violence at the same time with tenderness and love. Punch's acts of violence ar punctuated by some of Birtwistle's most evil and sinister music while Punch sings(as he is mudeering sokmeone: "No sorrow no pain do I feel at this/ to die for Punch is eternal bliss" and soon after Punch sings tender love songs to Polly with sweet sernades .
Two of my favorite scenes are Judy's "Passion Aria " where she accuuse Punch of murder "Witness avenging gods..." and the quartet of murder victims curse Punch a fractured skull . Birtwistle seems at home at both chorus and solo singers in this opera. Though based on a puppet show, this truly an adult opera and I believe is one of Birtwistle's masterpieces that never left my mind all those years Iv'e been searching for it. Please excuse typos I have a neurologic disease.