Poets, composers and singers in six-way premiere

Six new song cycles by composers and poets from the Universities of Leeds and York will receive their premieres at Opera North later this month.

As In Waking Dream is a collection of six new works which each respond to Schumann and Chamisso's 1840 work Frauenliebe und Leben (A Woman's Life and Love) in varied and fascinating ways - from poetry inspired by archive film of a working class Bradford family to a reworking of the Rape of Persephone myth. The premieres on Monday May 23 will see these six new works performed by some of the most talented opera singers working in contemporary music today.  

The premieres include Spitfire Irene by Edward Caine and Adam Strickson, which tells the life story of a woman who was a Second World War "Attagirl", one of the select Air Transport Auxiliary pilots delivering Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters to airfields all over Britain. Now 90, and looking back over her long life, Irene has experienced many loves and letdowns - but perhaps her greatest love was her Spitfire.

We Were Engaged in the Spring of '56 by William Finn and Jo Brandon examines the 1950's ideal of womanhood and marriage. It explores themes of innocence and experience, combined with some of the more traditional, gendered and domestic rudiments of marriage, such as creating a perfect home and the pressures attached to those ideals.

Other works receiving their premiere are:

  • From Threshold to Threshold by Dorone Paris and Paul Celan (translated by Ian Fairley)
  • The Unpronounceable by Nektarios Rodosthenous and Andrew Knight
  • Not Persephone by Jessica Ward and Bethany Layne
  • Lamentu by Marcello Messina and John Whale 

This thought-provoking evening of new music and poetry has been organised by award-winning composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, the DARE Cultural Fellow in Opera-related Arts at the University of Leeds.  She said:  "It has been tremendously exciting for me to see these talented poets and composers - many of whom had never worked together before - joining up and collaborating on these song cycles."

She has recruited a talented group of singers and musicians, many of whom have performed at the UK's most prestigious opera houses, to present the new works. They are sopranos Natalie Raybould and Peyee Chen, mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin, counter tenor David Condry, tenor Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks and pianists Ian Shaw and John Longstaff.

Tickets for the premiere, at 7.30pm on Monday 23rd May 2011 in the Howard Assembly Rooms at Opera North, are free - but must be reserved by emailing asinwakingdream@gmail.com

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