Beckett's 1976 poem ‘Roundelay’ is sung as a Prologue to Kurtág's opera, Samuel Beckett: Fin de partie – scènes et monologues, opéra en un acte, which was premiered at La Scala, Milan, on 15 November 2018. As an opening gesture it recalls Duke Bluebeard's Castle, in which a spoken Prologue enigmatically conjures a world of fairy-tale that simultaneously reveals a psycho-drama (where is the stage? outside or inside?). ‘Roundelay’ is yet more enigmatic but similarly prescient: we are entering a time-space in which the sound of words is as important as their meaning, and where lonely characters attempt to cope with their sense of imminent end, mysteriously near and yet also bafflingly unreachable. The voice itself is also prophetic, sung as it is by the opera's only female character, Nell, who in Pierre Audi's production is only partly visible, illuminated as if a ghost in a spot of light amid the darkness, hovering well above the stage. There is a normatively bleak perspective on gender at play throughout: Nell's other-worldliness and incongruous melodiousness here anticipate her barely acknowledged death and the consequent obliteration of love.