The Music Troupe

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Opera With A Title

music by Edward Lambert
text by the composer after Federico Garcia Lorca

"...our identity is an ongoing performance..." (Grayson Perry)

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Reinvented Shakespeare, Juliet’s erotic desires, gay courtships, the bombing of a theatre and the shooting of a theatre director feature in this surreal work. But is the action for real or are the actors imagining it? Can their performance survive the war raging around them and will it redefine their art? 

lasts about 50 minutes

Contains adult themes; not suitable for children

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first performances at KINGS PLACE, London N1 as part of the 2015

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Thursday 6 & Friday 7August 2015

production made possible with support
from the
RVW Trust, Golsoncott Foundation
and
Gemma Classical Music Trust

CAST:
Peyee Chen (Sofia)
Laura Kelly-McInroy (Director)
Daniel Joy (José)
James Schouten
(Manuel)
Christopher Foster
(Spectator)

Daniel de Souza horn
Ariel Lang violin
Lydia Hillerudh cello
Edward Lambert digital harpsichord

Image design: Yulia Shtern
Masks: Colin Mayes
Director: David Edwards
Conductor: Ed Spanjaard

production photos by Claire Shovelton

 

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Drawn from two plays by Lorca, this surrealist opera explores the theme of identity. What the actors are playing, and what is happening to them in the real world, are confused: they bring their fantasies to bear on their performances while their characters invade their own personalities. Thus, role-play and questions of gender are examined, each from the other's viewpoint, as well as the nature of theatre and its relevance to everyday life.

Sung in English and Spanish.

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Composer's note The script for Opera With A Title has been extracted and freely arranged from two plays by Lorca, El publico and Comedia sin título; they are considered ‘impossible’ plays, an experimental theatre of the imagination and of the sub-conscious, and both are incomplete. In several ways, the two plays are connected and constitute a search for a new form of theatrical expression; like many works of the period, they also call for a new morality of personal freedom. Both examine the nature of illusion and reality, confusing actors inside and outside their roles with audience members inside and outside the ‘play’. This androgyny is mirrored in the relationships between some of the characters, with The Audience in particular containing episodes of homoeroticism. Both works also feature the character of Director/Author/Playwright/Impresario revealing the pre-occupations of Lorca himself who directed a national touring company in the years of the Socialist government.

Synopsis 
This surrealist opera concerns a troupe of actors in the time of the Spanish Civil War. What the actors are playing, and what is happening to them in the real world, are confused: they bring their fantasies to bear on their performances while their characters invade their own personalities. Thus, role-play and questions of gender are examined, each from the other's viewpoint, as well as the nature of theatre and its relevance to everyday life.

A performance of Romeo and Juliet has just taken place. The SPECTATOR, bass, is offended by the portrayal of Juliet by a male. FEDERICO, the DIRECTOR, mezzo-soprano, defends his desire to re-invent the theatre and portray the realities of the world outside.

A rehearsal gets underway: featuring characters from Shakespeare, SOFIA, the company soprano, plays PUCK who’s in love with OBERON, played by the tenor, JOSÉ. They argue, however, and the latter falls for the SPECTATOR who invades the stage and joins in the love-making as JULIUS CAESAR. Meanwhile, MANUEL, a stagehand, baritone, declares his love for the DIRECTOR who is threatening to give up the theatre. His passionate protestations are not reciprocated and, wearing an ass’s head, he sings a Spanish ballad about the qualities of masks.

Shots are heard and news arrives that a revolution has broken out; the troops are heading their way. For the DIRECTOR, it is time to bring the theatre crumbling down. SOFIA fears for the safety of her children. JOSÉ is for the rebels, while the SPECTATOR is revealed as a Fascist. MANUEL re-starts his song and, as tensions rise, the SPECTATOR gets out his pistol. He is about to shoot at JOSÉ but the DIRECTOR steps between them and is killed. The theatre is bombed and all is dark.

SOFIA as JULIET welcomes THE THREE WIZARDS ON WHITE HORSES into her tomb-like bed but, tired of their romantic serenading, insists on taking the lead; this erotic scene evaporates at dawn. As the dust settles and daylight returns, MANUEL, JOSÉ and the SPECTATOR reflect on what the drama has achieved. SOFIA emerges from her tomb in a blaze of glory and the DIRECTOR flies down from heaven. Now the audience can enter.

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Laura

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Peyee Chen has a particular interest in contemporary and Baroque music. Appearances include the Gavin Bryars Ensemble, Adelaide Festival, Club Transmediale Festival, Lucerne Festival conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and Barbara Hannigan, The Light Show as part of Southbank Centre’s Harmonic Series, and world premieres at Spitalfields Festival, GEMdays, and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. She is an ad hoc member of the BBC Singers and EXAUDI, with recent engagements including the BBC Proms, Spitalfields Festival, and Aldeburgh Festival.

Laura Kelly-McInroy received operatic training at the Royal Academy of Music and has since sung for ENO, ETO, Diva Opera and Opera North among others. Roles include Rosina, Third Boy & Second Lady; Cherubino, Olga, Alisa, Hansel, Siebel, Juno, Nancy, Jenny (Die Dreigroschenoper) and the Doctor in the world premiere of "Kommilitonen" (Sir Peter Maxwell Davies). She is equally at home on the concert and oratorio platforms and recently completed a tour of Rückert-Lieder with The Mahler players.

Daniel Joy gained a first class degree in Music from The University of Durham before studying at The RCM and on the opera course at GSMD. He has worked for opera companies including Glyndebourne, Garsington, Grange Park, Opera North and Scottish Opera. Recent concert performances include Verdi’s Requiem in The Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

james

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James Schouten is currently completing a MMus in Performance & Related Studies at Goldsmiths College under the tutelage of Nan Christie. Roles include: Demetrius, Angelotti, Harlekin, Papageno, Escamillo, Figaro, Don Giovanni, Marcello and Eisenstein. Outside of opera, James is involved with several rock and cross-over projects as orchestrator, musical director and performer.  

Christopher Foster has performed throughout Europe with the R.P.O., BBC S.O. and Les Musiciens du Louvre and  conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Sir Andrew Davis and Mark Minkowski. Operatic roles include Sarastro (Pavilion Opera and London Festival Opera), Traveller Curlew River (Nova Music Opera), Kawabata in the UK premiere of Glass’ Hotel of Dreams (Volta Theatre), Arthur in Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, Moroz The Snow Maiden (University College Opera), Father Laurence (Riverside Opera) and Raimondo (Winslow Opera).  He is very experienced on the concert platform and increasingly in demand as a recitalist.

Daniel de Souza is currently studying on the Guildhall Artists Masters program. Solo appearances have included Mozart’s 3rd Horn Concerto conducted by Nicholas Kraemer with the Amade Players in November 2013. Daniel has a busy freelance career as an orchestral player with groups including New English Concert Orchestra, Southern Sinfonia, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the later including two recent tours to Switzerland and Dubai.

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Lydia Hillerudh studied at Lilla Akademien, Stockholm, and is currently in her third year of study at the Royal Academy of Music supported by the Gladys Annie Hay Memorial Bursary. She was also awarded the Sir John Barbirolli Memorial Prize at the Academy this year. She has performed at some of Stockholm’s major concert venues and with the Tritium Trio she has performed recently at St James Piccadilly, London, and Colston Hall in Bristol.

Ariel Lang has just graduated with first class honours from the Royal Academy of Music having studied with Jack Liebeck. He has received multiple awards during his studies including the Paton award, the Amadeus prize and the Harold Craxton prize for chamber ensembles with piano and has been appointed Leverhulme mentor for the year 2015/2016. He has been a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Royal Academy Sainsbury Soloists.

Edward Lambert has composed music for a wide variety of performers. He has written the operas Caedmon (Donmar Warehouse / London International Opera Festival), The Button Moulder (Royal Opera Education), All in the Mind, (W11 Opera / Britten Theatre), Six Characters in Search of a Stage (2014 Brighton Fringe and London venues) and The Catfish Conundrum (Tete-à-Tête 2014). Many other pieces of choral and chamber music.

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Ed Spanjaard is conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra and Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), which specializes in contemporary music. Additionally he is a regular guest conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the orchestras of the Dutch Radio and the Netherlands Chamber Choir. He has conducted the Staatskapelle Weimar, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Opéra de Lyon, Ensemble InterContemporain (Paris), Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), KlangForum Wien (Vienna) and the Münchner Philharmoniker. With the Nationale Reisopera he has conducted a complete Ring, and Così fan Tutte with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.

Yulia Stern has recently relocated to Europe from Canada. She possesses a BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCAD, and a Master in Scenic Design from UBC. She was nominated for a Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Costume Design (2010), and won a Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Design Team (2011).

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. Recently - 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; Wagner and the Dream King for the Wagner Society and a programme celebrating the tercentanary of the birth of Gluck in London and a weekend of early 20th century music Après le déluge in Aldeburgh.