Thursday 4 July 2019

A Suffolk heroine returns home: Margaret Catchpole: Two Worlds Apart

Margaret Catchpole
Margaret Catchpole was a young Suffolk woman who was convicted of stealing a horse in a desperate attempt to meet a young man (a smuggler) with whom she had fallen in love, she was caught, convicted and transported to Australia, where she remained and her letters are an important eyewitness account of events in Australia in the early 19th century.

In 1979 the composer Stephen Dodgson turned to the story of Margaret Catchpole as the basis for his chamber opera with a libretto by the Suffolk-based writer Ronald Fletcher. Dodgson's wife, Jane Clark Dodgson, lived in Suffolk and fell in love with the novel The History of Margaret Catchpole by Richard Cobbold (first published in London in 1845), and this formed the inspiration for Dodgson's choosing the story for the opera.

Margaret Catchpole premiered in 1979, having a short run in Hadleigh, Suffolk. Dodgson subsequently revised the last Act and this version was performed at the Wangford Festival in 1989. Now the opera is returning to Suffolk, where it is being performed at Snape Maltings on 5 July 2019, and will be recorded live for Naxos. Julian Perkins conducts Ensemble Perpetuo with Kate Howden in the title role, plus Matthew Brook, Richard Edgar-Wilson, Anna Dennis and William Wallace.

Full details from the Snape Maltings website.

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