Wednesday 13 March 2013

The Firework-Maker's Daughter

The Firework-Maker's Daughter
Saturday 23 March at Hull Truck Theatre in Hull sees the premiere of David Bruce's new opera The Firework-Maker's Daughter. The opera is being produced by the Opera Group and Opera North, in associated with the Royal Opera House and the Watford Palace Theatre. After the premiere the production is being taken on tour to Huddersfield, London,  New York, Watford, Bury St. Edmunds, Buxton, Oxford and Newcastle. Described as a colourful new opera for children and families, Glyn Maxwell's libretto is based on the book by Philip Pullman.

American born David Bruce grew up in the UK. He is Associate Composer of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and 2012-13 Composer-in-Residence with the Royal Opera House, London. His wrote a sequence of short operas for Tete a Tete; I remember a delightful piece for a spider, caterpillar and dung-beetle in 1999, with Damian Thantrey (I think), as the beetle in a black wheelie bin. These culminated in Push!, commissioned by the Genesis Foundation in 2006. Subsequent operas included the 2008 A Bird in your ear commissioned by Dawn Upshaw.

Poet and playwright Glyn Maxwell's previous libretti have included Luke Bedford's opera Seven Angels, Elena Langer's Lion's Face.

The Firework-Maker's Daughter will be directed by John Fulljames (Associated Director of Opera the Royal Opera House, and previous Artistic Director of the Opera Group), designed by Dick Bird and will feature puppeteers from Indefinite Articles with live projection to created effects inspired by Indonesia's shadow puppetry. You can see John Fulljames talking about the production on YouTube.

The work will be accompanied by nine instrumentalists from the ensemble Chroma, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson. The piece uses four singers, including Mary Bevan as Lila, the young girl who pursues a treacherous journey to become a firework maker, with the help of a love sick elephant (played by counter tenor James Laing). The other singers are Amar Muchhala, Wyn Pencarreg and Andrew Slater. All five singers play multiple roles.

We are promised an infectious new score, with whacky instruments and percussive firework displays, it will be interesting to see if words, music and production can live up to their exotic promise.

Further information from the dedicated Firework-Maker's Daughter website.

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