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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

New company, new triple bill

Helios Chamber Opera - Joel Ruse: Red as Blood / Philip Ashworth: Bare / William Walton: The Bear
A new opera company, Helios Chamber Opera, opens its first production tonight at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. Conducted by Oliver Zeffmann and directed by Ella Marchment they are performing William Walton's one-act comic opera The Bear along with two other specially commissioned to go with it, Joel Rust's Red as Blood and Philip Ashworth's Bare. Helios are a young company, and the troupe features some of the UK's exciting young operatic talent with a cast including Helen Stanley, Henry Neill, David Fearn, Urszula Bock, Angus McPhee and Sam Carl. The orchestra of 26 players is the Melos Sinfonia.

The productions open at the Rose Theatre tonight (31 July 2013), then travel to the Sage, Gateshead (2 August), Greyfriar's Kirk Edinburgh (3 and 4 August) with a final concert performance at St Cyprian's Church, London (6 August).

Joel Rust's Red as Blood is set in Iceland at the dawn of the second millennium and is taken from the Icelandic Njals Saga. Rust is currently studying with Julian Anderson at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and is the recipient of the Vaughan Williams Scholarship from the RVW Trust. He graduated from the University of Cambridge, where he studied composition with Robin Holloway, before spending a year at Harvard on a Herchel Smith Scholarship.

Whereas in Philip Ashworth's Bare a dressmaker earns a living making mourning clothes for widows, but has something else in the closet. Ashworth completed a BA in Music at the University of Bristol, and was awarded a MMus in Composition from the Royal College of Music where he is now completing his Doctoral portfolio.

William Walton's only one-act opera, The Bear, is a comic piece setting a libretto by Paul Dehn and the composer based on a play of the same name by Anton Chekov.

The three operas do not make an obvious trilogy, and triple bills are notorious to get right, but Ella Marchment assures me that the three work well together, highlighting the importance of love, loss and marital relations in all societies.

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