A poignant, almost operatic setting of the great poem by Edward Lear, The Yonghy Bonghy Bo was premiered at St David’s Cathedral on May 27th 2014. Sky Ingram sang Lady Jingly, Giles Underwood The Yonghy Bonghy Bo. The choir was Cantemus, the brass quintet was Onyx Brass, the organist Daniel Cook, and the children were choristers from St David’s Cathedral. The performance was conducted by Huw Williams.
“On the coast of Coromandel,
Where the early pumpkins blow . . .”
The Coromandel coast is in southern India, and the names Jingly and Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò have a distinctly Indian sound. Handel Jones has had his wicked way with a local girl, promising her marriage and respectability before leaving her in the lurch and fobbing her off with gifts of poultry. The Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò has adored Lady Jingly since their childhood. He is poor, and can offer none of the material security or social status with which Jones has inveigled her, but his love is as deep as the Indian Ocean which pounds the nearby coast; and he points out that “Fish is plentiful and cheap”. Lady Jingly returns his love, but is bound by propriety to wait for Mr. Jones. In deepest misery, she rejects him with the killer line “Will you please to go away?”. The Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò flees in despair, climbs on the back of a friendly turtle, and is swept away into the depths of the ocean – the implication being that he is carried to his death. Lady Jingly remains alone with her Dorking fowls, forever mourning her adored Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò, and waiting in vain for the dastardly Mr. Jones.
The Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò was commissioned by John Armitage Memorial (JAM) and the St. Davids Cathedral Festival, with financial support from PRS for Music Foundation and the Britten-Pears Foundation.