Music opens the doors of memory: new opera company, Theatre of Sound, launches with a radical retelling of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle

Forbidden chambers, corpses dangling from wall-hooks, pools of clotted blood, stigmata of guilt: ‘Bluebeard’, which first appeared in literary form in Charles Perrault’s seventeenth-century collection, Tales of Mother Goose, is…

Ephemera & Inventions: composer Tom Coult discusses two Oxford Lieder Festival premieres

‘Suppose you were to be roused from your sleep with the cry of “Fire!” and were informed that the house in which you had been sleeping was in flames, how…

A trio of operas by Gustav Holst at the 2021 Leeds Opera Festival

Gustav Holst completed nine operas.  They span his compositional career.  None were commissioned; several were not performed in his lifetime; most did not meet with critical acclaim.  Few would consider…

Great Women: the words and lives of four powerful 20th-century Irish women are brought to life by composer Gráinne Mulvey and soprano Elizabeth Hilliard

Born Constance Gore-Booth in County Sligo in February 1868, Countess Constance Markievicz was a co-commander in the 1916 Easter Rising and the first Irish woman elected to Parliament.  Alongside Markievicz…

The Children’s Hour: an eclectic and enlightening new disc from baritone Gareth Brynmor John

Between the dark and the daylight,      When the night is beginning to lower,Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,      That is known as the Children’s Hour. The nineteenth-century poet Henry…

Alastair White’s ROBE: a ‘fashion-opera’

If Rousseau, Marx, Einstein, Lacan and Bill Gates were to collaborate on an opera, what would they create?  Perhaps something not unlike ROBE by the Scottish composer and writer Alastair…

Visions of Childhood: April Fredrick and the English Symphony Orchestra

“Let’s not lose our wayin this solitude.” (‘September’, from Vier Letzte Lieder) The last work that American-born, UK-domiciled soprano April Fredrick performed before the March 2020 coronavirus lockdown was Richard…

20 Shots of Opera: Irish National Opera administer a creative ‘cure’

shot [noun]: an attempt to do or achieve something that you have not done before; an attempt to do or achieve something that is difficult, when success is uncertain; a…

Regards sur l’Infini: Katharine Dain and Sam Armstrong

Across the globe, musicians stopped making music in March this year.  Or, at least, they stopped performing publicly, together, and communicating directly to audiences in concert halls, opera houses and…

David Ward, Artistic Director of Northern Opera Group – in conversation

My telephone conversation with David Ward, co-founder and Artistic Director of Northern Opera Group, began with a sheepish confession.  Before undertaking some research prior to our discussion, I knew little…