The Music Troupe

Presenting fresh, crunchy operas!


The Catfish Conundrum!

music & words: Edward Lambert

London, 1971: a gallery exhibits a tank of catfish. The Press is indignant: ‘Animal cruelty!’ 'Is this art?' Spike Milligan, the Arts Council, the artist and, finally, President Reagan all have their say. And the Catfish? Could this be the only opera in which the heroine is killed - and eaten? A musical potboiler!

A revival of this production which was one of the hits of the Tête a Tête Opera Festival in 2014.

"Brilliantly bonkers, thought-provoking satire. A Festival highlight ..." (Audience Tweet)

Donna Lennard (The Catfish)
Catherine Backhouse(Ronald Reagan)
Christopher Diffey (Spike Milligan)
Alistair Shelton-Smith
(Newton Harrison)
Mark Beesley
(Lord Goodman)

Mayah Kadish (violin)
Lydia Hillerudh (cello)

Director: David Edwards


An artyfishal opera!


as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe


Friday 22 May 2015
at 16:00

Saturday 23 May 2015
at 14:00

Sunday 24 May 2015
at 14:00

Otherplace Productions
01273 987516 




Donna Lennard grew up in Bedford, completed a Masters degree at the GSMD with Distinction in 2012, and currently studies with Theresa Goble. She participated in ENO’s Opera Works 2012/13, studying roles such as Iris Semele, Belinda Dido & Aeneas, and subsequently performing the role of Dorinda Orlando in the final performance, Postcards at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadlers Wells. Her opera roles include Frog/Ensemble in How the Whale Became (ROH), Selene in Tycho’s Dream (Glyndebourne), Alice in Airborne (Nova Music Opera), Yellow in The Anatomy of Melancholy (bodycorps), Catfish in The Catfish Conundrum (The Music Troupe for Tête à Tête), Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Frasquita in Carmen, Pamina in The Magic Flute (Opera Loki), and Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld (Beds Youth Opera) Her concert repertoire includes Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Chester Philharmonic Orchestra, Petite Messe Solennelle (Rossini) and Exsultate, Jubilate (Mozart) with Skipton Camerata, Elijah (Mendelssohn) and Dona nobis pacem (Vaughan Williams) with the Chester Bach Singers, and chorus in Jonathan Miller’s staged production of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the National Theatre. She has also given the premieres of works at the Wigmore Hall for Voiceworks.



Catfish have widely been caught and farmed for food for hundreds of years in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. In Central Europe, catfish were often viewed as a delicacy to be enjoyed on feast days and holidays. Migrants from Europe and Africa to the United States brought along this tradition, and in the Southern United States, catfish is an extremely popular food. The most commonly eaten species in the United States are the channel catfish and the blue catfish, both of which are common in the wild and increasingly widely farmed. Farm-raised catfish became such a staple of the diet of the United States that on 25 June 1987, President Ronald Reagan established National Catfish Day to recognize "the value of farm-raised catfish." In the UK, catfish has to be smuggled into supermarkets under various pseudonyms in order not to offend Britsh sensibilities.

Alistair Shelton-Smith is in demand across Europe as a singer of Contemporary and 20th Century Opera. He has created leading roles for; Staatsoper Stuttgart, Dutch National Ballet, Operadagen Rotterdam and ODD Continent (NL), and has worked closely with composers; Param Vir, Rob Zuidam, Benedict Weisser and Colin Benders (a.k.a Kyteman) among others. He is probably the foremost exponent of Eddy, the ill-fated protagonist in Mark-Anthony Turnage's first opera, ‘Greek’. It is a role that he has sung to critical acclaim for the Dag in de Branding Festival (NL), Staatsoper Hannover (in German), and most recently for Music Theatre Wales at the ROH Linbury Studio. 20th Century Opera roles have included Der Fischer in Blacher's 'Die Flut' for Amsterdam’s Grachten Festival, and the title role in Britten's 'Owen Wingrave' for Opera Trionfo under the baton of Ed Spanjaard. Alistair’s studies took him to London (RCM, Kenneth Woollam), Germany (Karlsruhe Conservatoire for Music, Mitsuko Shirai and Hartmut Höll) and the Netherlands (Dutch National Opera Academy, Margreet Honig) where he graduated with distinction in the title role of Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' in 2008. Alistair was a finalist in the 2012 Armel International Competition for Contemporary Opera in Szeged, Hungary.



Among the leading pioneers of the eco-art movement, the collaborative team of Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison (often referred to simply as “the Harrisons”) have worked for almost forty years with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development.

Mark Beesley - roles with the Royal Opera include Colline La Boheme, Ancient Hebrew Samson et Dalilah, Lodovico Otello, King Aida, Timur Turandot, Capellio Capuletti et Montecchi, Theseus Midsummer Nights Dream, Doctor Grenville La Traviata, Ceprano Rigoletto and Raimondo Matilde di Shabran. With English National Opera - Pistola, Daland, Don Basilio, Sparafucile, Bartolo and Parson Cunning Little Vixen. He has also sung at Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne, Paris (Chatalet), Nantes, Palermo, and in the Hong Kong, and Aix en Provence festivals, as well as the Lincoln Center and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Recordings include Simon Boccanegra, La Traviata and Otello with Solti, Salome with Downes, Pulcinella with Robert Craft.



Arnold Goodman (1915-1995) was a lawyer and political advisor and negotiator. He was chairman of the Arts Council (1965-1972) and with Jenny Lee, the Arts Minister, presided over what is widely recognized as a 'golden age'of the arts, in which funding for the arts was maintained and access in the regions widened during a time of economic strife. Rising from the Jewish middle-class intelligensia, he thrived before the era of targets and dumbing-down, and could often be seen enjoying evenings at the opera.

Christopher Diffey was born in Melbourne, and trained at the Royal Academy of Music. Awards include the English Touring Opera Young Artist bursary. He has performed many operatic roles, both in Australia and Europe, including Erisso/Maometto Secondo (Volkstheater Rostock), Odoardo/Ariodante (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence), Condulmiero/Maometto Secondo (Garsington Opera), Triplet 1/Clemency and Mercury/Orpheus in the Underworld (Scottish Opera), Pedrillo/Abduction from the Seraglio (Iford Opera), Fenton/Falstaff (Longborough Festival), Alfredo/La Traviata (Opera South, Opera UK, Garden Opera) & Count Almaviva/The Barber of Seville (Opera Brava, Garden Opera). Concert experience includes Bach/Christmas Oratorio (Manchester Camerata & Leeds Philharmonic), Bach/Mass in A Major (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment) and a recital of Baroque arias at London’s Handel House Museum. Future plans include Rigoletto with Longborough Festival Opera and Ariodante at Dutch National Opera. Christopher would like to thank Professor Eleanor Hancock for her continued patronage.



Spike Milligan (1918 – 2002) was a comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor. His early life was spent in British India, where he was born, but the majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom. He claimed his right to Irish citizenship after the British government declared him stateless. He was the co-creator, main writer and a principal cast member of the groundbreaking The Goon Show, performing a range of roles including the popular Eccles and Minnie Bannister characters. Milligan translated this success to television with Q5, a surreal sketch show which is credited as a major influence on the members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Milligan wrote and edited many books, including his seven-volume autobiographical account of his time serving during the Second World War, beginning with Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall. He is also noted as a popular writer of comical verse much of it written for children. His epitaph reads "I told you I was ill".

Catherine Backhouse (mezzo-soprano) graduated with an honours degree in music from The University of Durham and completed the prestigious Opera Studies course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she continues to study with John Evans on the new Artist Diploma programme. Catherine was a 2014 Britten-Pears Young Artist and played the role of Kate Julian in a new production of Britten’s Owen Wingrave at the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh International Festivals to critical acclaim. She has performed Flora in La Traviata with Opera South, Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea at the Ryedale Festival, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus at Clonter Opera and L'Enfant in Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortilèges in the Barbican. While at Guildhall she played Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Jean in Le Portait de Manon by Massenet, Eva in Comedy on the Bridge by Martinu, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Soeur Anne in Dialogues des Carmélites by Poulenc and Mabel/Nurse Wallace in Unknown Doors by Iain Burnside in the Barbican Pit Theatre. Other roles performed are Mezzo Actor in Judith Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera with British Youth Opera,  Rossweisse in Die Walküre at the St Endellion Festival, Ino in Handel’s Semele and Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito for Hampstead Garden Opera, and Flat Pack: An Opera in IKEA by Tom AZ Lane..



Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was an actor and a politician who rose to become 40th President of the US (1981-1989). His policies were closely aligned to those of his friend Mrs Thatcher.

Born in Stockholm in 1993, Lydia Hillerudh started playing the cello at the age of seven under the guidance of Elisabeth Lysell-Bjermkvist. When she was 16 years old she was awarded a place at Lilla Akademien, Stockholm, a music school for talented young people, whilst con- tinuing her studies with Elisabeth Lysell-Bjermkvist there. She is currently in her third year of study with Prof. Mats Lidström at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she is kindly supported by the Gladys Annie Hay Memorial Bursary and various foundations in Sweden. She was also awarded the Sir John Barbirolli Memorial Prize at the Academy this year. She has had the opportunity to participate in masterclasses for some of Sweden's most renowned cellists, including Thorleif Thedéen and Ola Karlsson, as well as international figures such as Robert Cohen, Colin Carr, Sun Won Yang and Natalie Clein. As a soloist she has performed at some of Stockholm’s major concert venues, Berwaldhallen and Musikaliska. Lydia is a very eager and dedicated chamber musician, and together with her clarinet trio, ‘the Tritium Trio’, she was one of the prize winners in the Harold Craxton Prize and the Harry Isaacs Prize at the Royal Academy of Music last year. With the Tritium Trio she performs regularly across London, most recent they gave lunchtime recitals at St James Piccadilly, London, and Colston Hall in Bristol. She recently gained a place in the Academy’s highly acclaimed Cello Ensemble and Lydia is also frequently asked to perform with other ensembles in the Academy, her collaboration with the Cellini Quartet led to perform chamber music by Jonathan Östlund in Cadogan Hall earlier this year. Lydia plays a German 19th century cello with a bow by Francoix Lotte. The bow was purchased with generous support from the Salen Charitable Trust.





Mayah Kadish - violin - focuses mainly on early and contemporary classical music. She is a member of london-based contemporary music group x.y ensemble, as well as leader of Berlin-based Stargaze under the direction of André De Ridder, an ensemble that focuses on contemporary pop/folk/electronica and uncategorizable genres. She also plays with the Holland Baroque Society, a leading Netherlands-based baroque orchestra, as well as the London-based early music group Clemens Non Papa Consort - a small group of talented instrumentalists and singers who perform a variety of solo and ensemble pieces. She particularly enjoys working with composers - in the last year she has played several works dedicated to her, one of which was broadcast live on Dutch classical music station Radio 4, and looks forward to the coming months when she will continue with this tradition. Mayah has performed as soloist and chamber musician in many of London's most prestigious venues, and as ensemble member has had the joy of playing across Europe.Mayah Kadish was born in Rome in 1988 and grew up in London. She studied at London's Junior Royal Academy of Music, and graduated from King's College London in Philosophy. She returned to the Royal Academy of Music for a Master's degree, studying with Remus Azoitei, after which she began studying simultaneously in Sicily with Enrico Onofri, and the Netherlands with Vera Beths.Mayah plays a modern violin by Gudrun Kremeier, and a German baroque violin by Ficker, both on loan from the Netherlands Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds to whom she is extremely grateful

DAVID EDWARDS works internationally as a stage director, writer and presenter collaborating with Opera Companies, Symphony Orchestras, Universities and Young Artists' Training Programmes in the U.K., U.S.A, Japan and Singapore. Currently in 2014 engagements include Die Zauberflöte for Opéra Bastide in Bordeaux France,A Midsummer Night's Dream in Portland Oregon, La Rondine in Arezzo Italy, Les Contes d'Hoffmann touring the U.K. and Europe and The Merry Widow in Singapore. David is presenting Wagner and the Dream King for the Wagner Society and a programme celebrating the tercentanary of the birth of Gluck in London. He is also curating a weekend of early 20th century music Après le déluge in Aldeburgh in September as well as the premiere of a new opera by Ed Lambert for the Tête-á-Tête Festival in London.



Edward Lambert has composed music for a wide variety of performers. He was on the music staff of the Royal Opera for many years; there, as a composer, he helped to devise many innovative outreach projects with schools and communities around the country. He has written the operas Caedmon (Donmar Warehouse / London International Opera Festival), The Button Moulder (Royal Opera's first commissioned work for schools), All in the Mind, (W11 Opera / Britten Theatre) and Six Characters in Search of a Stage (2014 Brighton Fringe and London venues). Other works include the Mass for Four Voices (Huddersfield Festival / Radio 3), a 'strikingly imagined' Chamber Concerto (Bath Festival), Rossetti Requiem (Newbury 2010) and many other pieces of choral and chamber music.