OperaUpClose presents a public performance of extracts from the four finalists of the Flourish Opera Competition 2015. Now in its fourth year, Flourish aims to raise awareness of the wealth of contemporary opera being written today, and provide a platform for emerging and established composers and librettists.
Since the inaugural competition was held in 2012, OperaUpClose is delighted to have produced and staged three brand new operas; the 2013 winner The Blank Canvas, was staged at the King's Head Theatre in September 2014 and won the OffWestEnd.com award for Best Opera Production that year. Last year's winner Ulla's Odyssey, a family friendly opera about a young girl's solo sail around the world and the mythical creatures and environmental obstacles she encounters on her journey, is currently in the middle of a 4-performance run at Kings Place, before it returns in 2016 for a UK tour.
The judging panel for the 2015 competition consists of James Clutton (Producer, Opera Holland Park); Jonathan Lennie (Chief opera critic, Time Out and Events Editor, Sinfini), Sarah Minns (Soprano, currently starring in Ulla's Odyssey for OperaUpClose); Robin Norton-Hale (Artistic Director, OperaUpClose); Elizabeth Rowe (Senior vocal and répétiteur coach, GSMD and Head of Music, Opera Holland Park). The audience and judges will hear 15 minute extracts of each opera. The judges will then announce the winning opera on the night. The winner will be developed with the composer and librettist and be professionally produced by OperaUpClose in a full length production, at Kings Place in Autumn 2016.
The 2015 competition finalists are:
The Rue Morgue
Edgar Allan Poe's dark and sinister mystery story turned Operatic.
Composer & Librettist Louis Mander (Cantata Dramatica, Tête à Tête)
The brilliant yet jaded detective, Dupin, takes on a private (and secret) case of a mysterious double murder of an elderly mother, Madame L'Espanaye, and her spinster daughter in an apartment in Paris, originally set in the 1840s. This production has much scope for skillful ensemble writing, tense dramatic coups and an evocative and haunting Parisian sound world, with a baffling and sometimes whimsical plot.
Opera - with added balls!
Composer Eve Harrison (Opera North Youth Company, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Tête à Tête)
Librettist Andrew Loretto (Opera North Youth Company, founder of Sheffield People’s Theatre)
This immersive musical theatre piece puts the audience in the centre of the action during a Bingo game, which has life changing effects for it's players. Introducing The Bingo Caller, the ferocious Babs, Maxx the Barman, Agnes, Loner Pete and the sharp words of the lacquered hair of Ladies Who Lunch. At this highly irregular Bingo game, secrets will get out. Who will win the grand prize?
Satire on modernism set during the 1960s reconstruction of Britain.
Composer & Librettist Jonathan Pease (ENO Mini Operas 2012, Director of Music at Christ Church Isle of Dogs)
Concrete Music scrutinises the clearance and reconstruction of Britain’s great cities during the 1960s. Modernist architect Charles Bronstow climbs from ignominy to fame through a back-slapping relationship with an east London mayor; but victory turns to depression and ultimately suicide when he realises that even his most ardent backers don’t really understand his utopian vision. Though set some decades ago, the themes of ideology, political pragmatism, enlightened self-interest, un-keep-able promises, the “old boys’ network” and the fine line between artistic genius and charlatanism will nonetheless feel uncomfortably familiar to a contemporary audience.
They Came Back
Mankind is enlightened or living through it's darkest days
Composer & Librettist Martin Ward (ROH, Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Polka Theatre)
It is the near future and the world is in the grip of a compelling phenomenon. In small but ever growing numbers the deceased are returning, making brief ghostly Visitations to their living loved ones and delivering hauntingly beautiful messages. What many interpret as a great unifying human experience others see as a dark omen.
They Came Back tells the stories of six individuals struggling - in a familiar world made unfamiliar - to come to terms with this phenomenon, with what it might mean for them personally and for mankind as a whole.