JILTED

Performed by Rebecca Askew and Melanie Pappenheim

Music by Jeremy Peyton Jones, Jocelyn Pook, Mike Henry and OG

Directed by Emma Bernard

 

The fictional Miss Haversham, jilted and bitter, meets the real Catherine Dickens, jilted and bitter.

HULDA'S KOKEBOK

Performed by Concentus, the children’s choir Viva, Jeremy Avis, Giles Perring

 

A feast with music, commissioned by the wonderful Norwegian female choir Concentus. The event was built around a cantata by Steinar Eielsen, of which the lyrics are recipes by the extraordinary Hulda Gaborg, poet, novelist, playwright, folk dancer, theatre instructor, women’s rights campaigner.

 

The choir performed the cantata. The audience ate the cantata. The meal included mushroom soup, rabbit stew, apple pie. The choir performed two beautiful short stories from Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo: Mushrooms In The City and The Poisoned Rabbit. I wrote them a daft song called How To Cook A Jellyfish. Jeremy Avis and Giles Perring and I made a piece, somewhere between music and juggling, by kneading dough. Jeremy and Giles made an excellent piece by eating apples, using a loop station.

 

Before the event I suggested that there must be a vegetarian alternative to the rabbit stew. There will no need, said Per Sigmund, the conductor of the choir (yes, a man conducting an all-female choir, strange). And sure enough, out of the several hundred people in the audience, not a single one was vegetarian. Amazing. What’s going on in Norway?

 

IMAGO

An old woman, Elizabeth, is given the chance by her doctor, Andy, to play the online game Imago, constructing an avatar, Lisette, of herself and letting her loose in a cyberworld. Lisette meets Gulliver, an avatar constructed by Andy’s teenage son Rufus.

 

Watch a performance:

Act 1

Act 2

With Jean Rigby, Joanna Songi, Adam Gilbert, Dan Norman

Libretto by Stephen Plaice

Conducted by Nicholas Collon

Directed by Susannah Waters

Designed by Es Devlin and Bronia Housman

 

The action of Imago ricochets back and forth between the real world and cyberspace. The obvious question is: what is the difference between the music in the real world and the music in cyberspace? The answer is: not as much as you’d think.

 

The temptation was to make cyberspace a plastic world with robotic music, probably electronic. Which would have been fun, and would have had the immediate appeal of making a striking contrast with the music of the real world. But that didn’t feel right. The cyber world in Imago, a kind of Second Life, is a fantasy world created by humans, a world in which, while in principle anything can happen, the usual tropes of the real world inevitably take over. You can create an avatar who is better-looking, cleverer, more adventurous and better at tennis than you are yourself, but eventually you are going to get caught up with the problems of desire, love, rejection and disaffection that plague us all.

 

So the cyberspace music in the opera is different from the real world music, but only to the extent that it is much more slippery, and contains elements of pastiche. In the cyberworld we shoot about in location and time, from a 1970s casino to a modern protest march to a 1950s doo-wop wedding, at the click of a mouse, and the music tries to match the speed and unpredictability of these shifts. But a lot of the important emotional action in the opera, most of it very familiar from the real world, takes place in cyberspace, and this emotional action needs to feel real. So there has to be more to the cyberspace music than mere pastiche.

 

What happens is that the two worlds infect each other. Certainly the cyber world is infected by the real world because it’s an invention of the real world; but equally the frenzied action in cyberspace, where Rufus and Rory are indulging their fantasies, affects their real-world arguments with their parents. This seems inevitable. You can’t spend a large part of your life futzing around in cyberspace without bringing back traces of it into the real world.

 

This idea – the interdependence of the two worlds – is one of the key ideas in the opera.

 

Score available on request

ROAD RAGE

Performed by Clare Presland, Alexander Byron Hargreaves, Dan Norman, Peter Wilcock, a large amateur chorus, a children’s chorus and a small band

Libretto by Richard Stilgoe

Directed by Karen Gillingham

Designed by Rhiannon Newman-Brown

 

A motorway is to run through the village of Trenton Oldfield. The village prepares its protest. The local landowner is the Minister for Infrastructure, so his position is, to say the least, compromised.

 

Machiavellian politics, ecology, nimbyism, protest, love, betrayal, the power of small things.

 

A hilarious libretto – the wittiest opera I’ve ever seen. The adult performers completely upstaged by a chorus of six-year-olds playing newts.

 

Score available on request

 

MY MOTHER MY DAUGHTER

The whole span of a relationship of a mother and her daughter, revealed in a matter of minutes.

Singers: Hannah Mason and Amy Freston

Cellists: Dan Bull and Angélique Lihou

Directed by Bill Bankes-Jones

 

M How is this going to feel? Will I love you enough?

=

M (end of labour) Rip open my body and out you come.

=

D arrives.

D (first cry)

=

M (knackered lullaby) nana nana nana

=

D (first sounds) ma ma mamama na nanana babanana

=

M (aeroplane spoon) One more...one more...that’s it...come on...come on....just one more...

D (sounds of dissent)

=

M Dog

D (bark)

M cat

D (miaoww)

M lion

D (roar)

M dinosaur

D (trumpet)

=

M Bedtime!

=

D Fuck.

M Don’t say that!

D Fuck fuck fuck. Fuckety fuckety fuck.

=

M (bedtime story) ‘The witch led them into the dark forest, and in the forest there was a wolf.’

D More! More! More!

=

D Can we get a dog?

M No way!

=

D Why? Why? Why? What’s an alcoholic? How does a mobile phone work? Who made God?

=

M Beat the eggs and the sugar. Have you done that? Now add the flour and the chocolate.

=

M Homework!

D I haven’t got any.

M Of course you have.

=

M There’s something you need to know. A man and a woman....

D Mum, don’t start, we’ve done all that stuff at school.

=

D Mum....

M Yes...?

D Can I get a tattoo?

M No way!

=

M You can’t wear that.

D Why not?

M You’re too young.

=

D I don’t want anything to eat. I’m going out.

=

M I worry about you.

D Don’t worry about me!

M Of course I worry about you.

D Stop worrying about me!

=

D I don’t want anything to eat. I’m going out.

=

M You’re lying to me.

D Of course I’m not lying.

M Are you lying to me?

D Of course I’m not!

=

M Homework!

D I haven’t got any.

M Of course you have.

=

D Mum....

M Yes....?

D Can I get these?

M But they cost a fortune.

=

D Do you even like me? Do you even like me?

M Of course....

=

M I’ve liked you on Facebook.

D Stop stalking me!

=

D Mum....

M Yes....?

D There’s something you need to know.

M You’re not?!!

D No, of course not.

=

M China? It’s so far away.

(Kiss)

=

(Kiss)

D It was brilliant mum. China is brilliant. The Chinese are brilliant.

=

M Darling...

D Yes...?

M There’s something you need to know. Your father and I......

D Mum, I knew already. It’s been obvious.

=

M What shall we do?

D Let’s go to the cinema.

 

D There’s something you need to know.

M You’re not?!!

D No, of course not.

=

D (end of labour) Rip open my body and out you come.

=

M Oh! Ooh! She’s beautiful.

D I’m knackered.

=

D Could you look after her for a couple of days?

=

D You can’t wear that!

M Why not?

D You’re too old.

=

M He was a wonderful man.

D Mum, he treated you like scum.

=

D I worry about you.

M Don’t worry about me!

D Of course I worry about you.

M Stop worrying about me!

=

M A woman?

D She’s brilliant. We’re happy.

M A woman?

=

M China? It’s so far away.

D How about Crete?

M The Cotswolds?

=

M Darling....

D Yes...?

M There’s something you need to know.

D Oh no mum, no!

=

M I don’t want anything to eat. You go out.

=

D (reading to M) ‘All happy families are alike. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’

=

D (feeding M) One more...one more...that’s it...come on just one more...

=

M ...he....he....he was a pig....no....he was a butcher......

D Shhh, mum, shhh.

=

M leaves.

D (lament) How does this feel? How does this feel? Did I love you enough?

 

*

 

Score available on request

CONTAGION

Summer 2019

York

 

Concept and composition: Orlando Gough

Direction: Karen Gillingham

Design: Hannah Sibai

Musical direction: Jon Hughes

Scientific input: Mike Brockhurst, Ville Friman, Nick Brown

Project management: York Theatre Royal, Centre for Future Health

 

Contagion, for vocal soloists and a huge chorus of amateur singers, will look at the spread of infection, not just of diseases but of ideas, ideology, emotions.

 

The approach will be from scientific, sociological, historical and political standpoints. How do infections spread? How do rumours and ideas spread? How have vaccinations and antibiotics affected our lives? How does politics impact on the control of disease?

 

Contagion, as well as being a choral piece, will be a piece of theatre. The audience, placed above the singers, will see as well as hear the infections spread; the singers will carry individual LED lights, and wear electroluminescent wires, so that movements of sound will be manifested as movements of light.

 

The event will be almost like a series of games, choral processes in which one sound or musical idea is infected by another. The material will be simple and the processes clearly audible; in fact one of the pleasures of being in the audience should be to work out what's going on. Some of the processes will be ultra-simple – pandemics, in which everyone is infected; some more subtle, in which the infection evolves, some people are immune, some recover.

 

In contrast: a series of solos and duets will look at the idea through a telephoto lens – we watch one person being infected, or one person infecting another – close-ups of the infection process.

 

BREATHe

A first-breath-to-last-breath music theatre piece, for three female singers, with interventions by a girl’s chorus and an adult chorus

 

An investigation of the way that breathing is affected by emotion and physical effort, and how that affects singing - running, falling in love, dreaming, giving birth, receiving bad news, making a speech, getting ill….. the whole range of life experiences.

Watch the film

*

 

Inside the outside the

In out

Long short

Deep shallow

Open the close the

Pull push

Speed up slow down

A breath

A hundred breaths

A thousand breaths

A hundred million breaths

Feed on the thick thin air

The air feed the blood heart pump

In out round

The hidden labyrinth

Life support machine

 

Score available on request