Commissioned by Mahogany Opera Group with support from Arts Council England, Tony Mackintosh & Criona Palmer, Britten–Pears Foundation, Cockayne, Institute of Music & Dance, Poland, Polish Cultural Institute, and Ernst von Siemens Foundation.
Leon is an egotistic young man who dreams of changing the world, but he’s still being supported by his mother. She pours all her vitality into providing for him, allowing him to mercilessly leech off her. As the realities of the world begin to corrode Leon’s dreams, his relationships start to falter and he drags those around him into a hedonistic binge ultimately leading to his mother dying of a cocaine overdose. Shattered, somewhere outside time and space, Leon then tries to come to terms with his mother’s death.
Narkissus & The Reflektions
Written for The Guildhall School of Music's MA in Opera Making & Writing. Libretto by Ruth Mariner. World première performances given by students at The Guildhall School, conducted by Dominic Wheeler. Directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans.
Narkissus and The Reflektions were a highly commercially successful pop band. They sold millions of albums worldwide, becoming a mass-marketed global brand in the process. Their music and image were shamelessly populist and extremely derivative. They disbanded following the horrific suicide of their main singer, Narkissus.
The opera is staged as a reunion concert in which the four remaining members of the band have decided to tell their story - a story which forms around the deceased Narkissus. Having brought Narkissus’s corpse onstage in a wheelchair, they re-enact their troubled relations with him, using the corpse as a puppet. They summon the goddess Artemis in order to bring their story to its conclusion. The dead Narkissus is reanimated by Artemis, and re-enacts his own suicide.
Narkissus and The Reflektions takes the shape of six songs, which dovetail to form a set-list.
April in the Amazon
Commissioned by Tête à Tête Opera Company. Premièred at The Platform Theatre on 24th and 25th July 2014, 7pm, by Lore Lixenberg and CHROMA, and directed by Bill Bankes-Jones. Libretto by Theo Merz.
"An exuberantly colourful and emotionally volatile sonic tapestry"
April is a cabaret singer with an appetite for love, an addiction to strong coffee and stronger sedatives, and a story to tell. Having invited us in and introduced her band, she regales us with tales of her travels, and the numerous love affairs she has enjoyed along the way. Over the course of five anecdotal songs, April leads us from performances in Berlin music halls, to botanical expeditions in the depths of the Peruvian jungle, to a particularly bad trip in the sterile corridors of a mysterious hospital. April’s stories are about love, adventure, drugs, and our insatiable lust for the people and places we are yet to come across.
The initial ideas for April in the Amazon sprang from our desire to present a traditional narrative through the medium of a series five anecdotal songs performed by its protagonist. Both of us view opera as an expansive and advanced form of storytelling squeezed uncomfortably into a score, and our love of the genre is fueled by the wonderful array of contradictions and complexities that result. April in the Amazon is essentially a one-woman cabaret show, the headline act of which is also the central character in her own fantastical stories. Doubling as narrator and protagonist, April constantly flits between past and present, fantasy and reality. For us, April in the Amazon therefore presented an interesting opportunity to explore different approaches to form and time, and the consequences of forcing a single, meandering narrative into five self-contained songs. When creating opera, the priority for us has always been to use the medium to tell a story: in April in the Amazon the story is intentionally at odds with the medium. We want to see what happens.
Commissioned by Tête à Tête Opera as a 'Lite Bite' for the Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2012. World première given at Riverside Studios, 2nd August 2012, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones and performed by Tête-à-Tête Opera. Singers: Joanna Songi (soprano), Danny Broad (baritone); Ensemble: Ric Elsworth (vibraphone), Corentin Chassard (violoncello).
World première given by students at the Royal College of Music, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones, at the Britten Theatre as part of Tête à Tête's Great Expectations project (May 11th, 12th, 2012).