Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Rough for Opera

Man Spangled
Rough for Opera, Second Movement's scratch night for opera returns to the Cockpit Theatre on 21 January 2014. Three young composers, Edward Henderson, Alex Groves and David Merriman, will be trying out new opera and music theatre. After each performance there is a Q and A with Professor Paul Barker of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, so there is a lovely chance to talk about the opera and opera making process. The three pieces are rather varied and promise some quite strong stuff, challenging both in content and in what the idea of opera is.

Edward Henderson's Manspangled with a libretto by Lavinia Murray is a dissection of masculinity using spoken opera for male voice, cello, tenor saxophone and chorus. Henderson's first collaboration with Murray, I Dust Skinheads With Icing Sugar, is being performed in January at King's Place. Henderson is studying for an MMus in composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. His writing includes aleatoric music, found sound and improvisation alongside the more traditional notation, and he runs two inclusive community choirs. The piece is presented by Bastard Assignments, a cross-arts collective based in London.

Alex Groves, director Rebecca Hanbury and movement director Amy Insole are experimenting with making the opera from the inside out, devising their drama through movement and then building a sound world. The piece, Hunger tells the story of a love affair gone wrong. Alex Groves is a graduate of Bristol University, recent projects include two seasons of the National Theatre's Young Studio Scheme.

David Merriman's Strange Exiles draw on contemporary accounts from LGBT employees of the US State Department to examine the effects of the Cold War era anti-homosexual witch-hunts targeted at US government workers. Merriman studied at Oxford and Cambridge and is a London-based composer, MD and repetiteur.

In its first two years Rough for Opera has provided a platform for 16 new operas by 18 composers. Further information from the Second Movement website and Rough for Opera blog.

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