rough for opera #3

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Benjamin Lunn: music

Lewis Carroll: libretto

  The inspiration of doing an operatic rendition of The Walrus and the Carpenter, came after my song setting of Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky. I instantly fell in love with the surreal world of Lewis Carroll. 

  From this I aimed to make The Walrus and the Carpenter extremely surreal as well as exploiting the sometimes dark comic moments of the text. My aims for the fully dramatised version was to make it look like a mother telling her kids the lovely tale. Alongside this would be what the story would look like in the kids imagination. 

  To add extra levels to this work was have the imagined world and the narrated world clashing a colliding adding to the surreal world of Lewis Carroll. (Ben Lunn)

  Andrew Henley: walrus                       

Soshanna Pavett: narrator                           

Guy Withers: carpenter                       

Eleanor Stowe: oyster 1                      

Rebecca Sands: oyster 2                     

Hannah Poulsom: oyster 3                          

         Roz Harpur: flute/piccolo

Katherina Fritzche: oboe

Gregg Hearle: clarinet/bass Clarinet

Philipe Mai: pIano

Catherine Lawlor: violin

Charlie Jackson: viola

Ruth Hallows: cello

  Ben Lunn: conductor

read the poem


  Benjamin Lunn is based in Cardiff, Wales. He is currently studying composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He has written for most genres from orchestral music to chamber works, from choral music to opera. His works have mostly been performed in London and Cardiff but in the near future he will have works performed in Germany and Scotland, broadening his horizons.

  Andrew Henley is studying as a postgraduate singer at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he studies with Eric Roberts. He began singing at Monmouth School, then going on to study at the University of Exeter while also singing as a choral scholar of Exeter Cathedral Choir. He is also a lay clerk at Llandaff Cathedral.

  Shoshana Pavett is a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She is in demand as a soloist and her engagements have included Soprano II in Bach’s ‘Magnificat’ (BBC NCW Come and Sing Day), Manuel de Falla’s ‘El Amor Brujo’ (Todmorden Orchestra) and Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (Ad Hoc Baroque). Shoshana was also the operatic soloist in the televised production of Michael Sheen’s The Passions with Wildworks and National Theatre Wales. She recently appeared as a soloist in the BBC Prom’s production of the Bernstein Mass.

  Currently in her third year at RWCMD, Hannah Poulsom has been studying classical singing since the age of 11. She previously studied at Frensham Heights, a specialist Arts school and sixth form. Hannah won the Shelia Armstrong award for the most promising young singer of the year 2007.

  Rebecca Sands recently graduated from the RWCMD, studing with Marilyn Rees. As a soloist, Rebecca has performed in venues such as Cadogan Hall, Llandaff Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. Repertoire ranges from Orff’s Carmina Burana and Faure’s Requiem to Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Bach’s Mass in B minor. Operatic roles: Tina in The Little Sweep, Second Boy in The Magic Flute, Flower Girl in The Marriage of Figaro and Belinda in Dido and Aeneas (Dragon Opera’r Ddraig).

  Eleanor Stowe is currently studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. In 2011 Eleanor won a scholarship to sing with the BBC National Chorus of Wales and sang in the BBC Proms 2012 season during which she gained the experience of her first solo in the Royal Albert Hall. Operatic roles include ‘Little Red-Cap’ The Brothers Grimm (2012). Eleanor enjoys singing as a soloist with choirs and choral societies in South Wales and the South West.

  Guy Withers is a 21 year old, currently studying with John Hugh Thomas, reading Music at Cardiff University, where he holds both a vocal scholarship and The David Lloyd Prize for Singing. Guy also is a Lay-clerk with Cardiff Metropolitan

Cathedral Choir and is a regular soloist in Cardiff and Bristol with choral societies and local opera companies.



Kate Whitley: music

Jonny Liron: libretto

  0520 speaks violently, about pain – the pain of the desire for pain. Can words truthfully not just describe it, but feel it? The poet’s answer: definitely not mediated through accepted grammar, syntax, and sense: probably not at all. Natural that it should attract a composer – after all, music has often been thought capable of reaching a specificity of expression where words cannot. And why stage it? We hope that at the intersection of lights, song, poetry, and movement, we might find something irreducible, a point that resists rational explanation, ineffable, perhaps.  “…and when I awoke…I could not even be sure at first who I was; I had only the most rudimentary sense of existence…but then the memory…would come like a rope let down from heaven to draw me up out of the abyss of not-being…in a flash I would traverse centuries of civilization, and out of a glimpse of oil-lamps, then of shirts with turned-down collars, would gradually piece together the original components of my ego.” Link to the poem:

Gwilym Bowen: tenor

Jude Carlton: percussion

Eloisa-Fleur Thom: violin

Jack Furness: director


  Composer: Kate Whitleyis a 23-year-old composer who graduated from Cambridge last year with a double first in music and an mphil in composition. Her previous operas are: Bonesong premiered in Cambridge Zoology Museum, Unknown Position whichwasperformed at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Terrible Lips, a science-fiction dance-opera.

  Director: Jack Furness is the artistic director of Shadwell Opera. Credits include Eugene Onegin (Ryedale Festival Opera), Albert Herring, Siren Song, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Magic Flute, Cosi Fan Tutte (Shadwell Opera), I Found My Horn (Marlowe Society), and Falstaff (Opera Integra). Jack won a Herald Angel Award with Shadwell Opera for his production of The Magic Flute in Rosslyn Chapel.

Jack has assisted David McVicar, Michael Gieleta, Alessandro Talevi, Elaine Kidd, John Ramster and Sarah Tipple, at The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Opera North, Wexford Festival Opera and The Royal Academy of Music. In 2013 Jack will assist David McVicar on Medée at ENO, and Harry Fehr on Der Fliegende Holländer at Scottish Opera. Jack is currently assisting Alessandro Talevi on Don Giovanni at Opera North.

    Tenor Gwilym Bowen is currently studying with Philip Doghan and Jonathan Papp at the Royal Academy of Music, where he holds an Entrance Scholarship, having graduated from the University of Cambridge in July 2011 with a double-First class degree in Music. Roles have included Pelléas Pelléas et Mélisande, Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress, Davey in Jonathan Dove’s Siren Song, Dwight/God Jerry Springer: the Opera, Intelletto in Emilio de Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di anima e di corpo, and performances of Kate Whitley’s Unknown Position at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Cockpit Theatre and King’s Head Theatre.

  Percussion: Jude Carlton is currently studying timpani and percussion at the Royal College of Music. Before this he was teaching for a year at Wells Cathedral School, a specialist music school, and before that he studied music at Cambridge University. Jude really enjoys playing new music and is looking forward not only to the premiere this evening but also to the first performance, on the 17th November, of Kate Whitley’s new double concerto for clarinet and percussion.

  Violin Eloisa-Fleur Thomstudied at the Royal Academy of Music with violinist Maurice Hasson, completing her Masters in June 2012. Whilst at RAM, she was awarded the Edwin Samuel Dove Prize and the Mary Burgess Prize. Eloisa-Fleur also received the MBF’s Emily English Award and was kindly supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Seary Trust, and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. A highlight of Eloisa-Fleur’s studies has been receiving Masterclasses with Maxim Vengerov, and she looks forward to working with him in concert performing Bach’s Concerto for two violins in November 2012.


Tonseisha – The Man Who Abandoned the World

Tonseisha – The Man Who Abandoned the World

Kim B Ashton: music

Erik Patterson: playwright

produced by saltpeter

Erik Patterson’s play has a rare quality: the writing provides exquisite detail but the landscapes he’s created are spacious, extreme and evocative.  As a theatre-maker, you could imagine inserting a marching band or an entire film sequence into it. Director Gary Merry, described it as ‘operatic’.

While working with composer Kim B Ashton, I was struck by his intelligence and irreverent humour. He also seemed to be toying with the rules of composition. A year later, here we are.

We’ve shown 30 mins twice to date. For today, we’ve created new material, layered in digital music, added performers and technical ideas. People- and process-driven, the rules of our various disciplines are constantly challenged; our full production and our overarching questions about art are held in mind.

What is opera? What would inspire freedom in audiences to dream, think, or act? We work to craft joyous, pertinent, intriguing and beautiful performance that launches you forth. What do you think? (saltpeter)

(Tonseisha – The Man Who Abandoned the World is adapted from the play Tonseisha by Erik Patterson originally produced by Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood, CA. This performance is possible by special permission from the Brautigan estate).

  Philippa Boyle: sop                        

Cheyney Kent: bass                         

Ilze Ikse: flute                                             

Kate Whitley: piano                                   

Vera Chok: actor                              

Sean Patterson: actor

Jamie Wood: actor

  Gary Merry: director

Jason Osterman: Lighting design

Alejandro Pelaez: sound design & composer

Nik Corrall: designer

Satoshi Date: costumes

saltpeter formed in 2010.

We are a production company which grows vital & investigative artistic projects.

We believe in and work towards a sustainable model where art ceases to be a luxury or a whim in our lives.

We do this through initiating & nurturing long-term relationships and communities across boundaries.

We produce tangible opportunities for artists new and old, to explore the world.

We are evolving.

  This Autumn, saltpeter Community Interest Company (CIC) formed with Vera Chok, Gary Merry and Tilly Brooke as directors, to formalise our commitment to art as integral to everyday life.


Composer – Kim B Ashton. Composer, conductor, teacher, gardener, baroque oboist. In Kim B Ashton’s music zen calm meets zen violence, while the sounds of nature mix with the sweet strains of hardcore modernism. Supervised by Silvina Milstein and George Benjamin, Kim is currently finishing his PhD at KCL. “Startling…soaring…volcanic” – Bachtrack on Kim’s Sumwhyle, performed by Opera North.

Soprano – Philippa Boyle was a choral scholar at Clare College Cambridge.  She trained in Rome at il Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia and Opera Studio Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia, where she studied with Renata Scotto.  She has a busy career divided between Italy and the UK, and is delighted to be collaborating with Kim B Ashton and Vera Chok again after the success of the boy the desert and the forest for the Arcola’s Grimeborn Festival last summer.

Yukiko/Producer – Vera Chok is a performance maker. She trained at The Poor School and Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris. Vera toured Japan on a Thelma Holt/Ninagawa exchange, has travelled the UK performing for major regional theatres and is currently working on solo performance projects. On screen she has worked with multi-BAFTA-winning Daniel Mulloy, Gillian Wearing and films with VertigoHeights & Adrian Gillott. Vera founded saltpeter in 2010. At Oxford, she ran the nihilists and The Egglesfield Players, produced a sell-out run of David Edgar’s multilingual, Pentecost, co-produced the Oxford New Writing Festival and was consultant to the Experimental Theatre Company.

Designer – Nik Corrall is saltpeter’s in-house designer & will oversee the entire design team. His background in graphic design, digital art, and theatre production, and his experience as a design mentor at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) puts him a great position to coordinate a cross-arts team.

Costumes & Digital ComposerSatoshi Date. Satoshi’s philosophy is all about communication, hand-crafted care, and the possibility in people. “If we make things carefully, everyone involved in the work will have this feeling implanted into their soul..To make clothing mean more, we must invest in everyday life and make a beauty that impresses and touches people…This way clothing becomes a form of interaction.”Born in Tokyo, the Central Saint Martins graduate, now creative director of the art and design label Satoshi Date now lives in London. He blends art and music into clothing with social and environmental themes.

Flautist – Ilze Ikse was born in Riga, Latvia, and began her musical education at the age of 11 at Emils Darzins Music School. In 2007 she was awarded a scholarship by the Royal Academy of Music to study her PG Diploma under Professor Clare Southworth and Patricia Morris. Ilze continues her studies with BBC Symphony Orchestra co-principal flautist Michael Cox and appears as a soloist and a chamber musician with great success. Ilze recently played Gruff Rhys’ concert at the Royal Festival Hall.

Bass – Cheyney Kent studied at the Royal Academy of Music and King’s College where he held a choral scholarship. Recent projects include Donizetti Caterina Cornaro and Dvořák Jakobín (BBC), and the world premiere of Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht (Birmingham Opera Company). Previous opera roles are Colline (La Boheme, with The Lambeth Orchestra), Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring, with Surrey Opera), the Italian Waiter (Death In Venice with the Philharmonia), The Madhouse Keeper (The Rake’s Progress) and The Nightwatchman (Gloriana). Future projects include covering Rocco (Fidelio, for Midsummer Opera) and performances of Donizetti’s Belisario and Grieg’s Peer Gynt (BBC).

DirectorGary Merry is a director of saltpeter and also a founder member of The New Factory of the Eccentric Actor. He has directed/co-directed the majority of their productions. Most recently for The New Factory, Gary directed To Moscow To Moscow, about the life & loves of Chekhov, at the Conway Hall in London with a cast of 38. He recently took a version of Chekhov’s Jubilee to Cesky Krumlov in Bohemia. Gary is interested in large-scale work in spaces not usually used for theatre, and in making theatre available to the public free of charge where possible.

Lighting DesignerJason Osterman created the world of Tintagel and The Fever (London) for saltpeter. Having trained in fine art, photography and lighting, he’s also a fully qualified LX designer. Jason is a professional theatre consultant for Theatre Projects Consultants, an exciting firm that creates extraordinary theatre spaces worldwide. Jason works collaboratively to create exciting theatre and has credits at the Young Vic, Bolton Octagon and across America, where he’s from.

Sound Design & Composer – Alejandro Pelaez is a Colombian composer and musical producer. His musical route has developed through both academic and non-academic ways: he has completed studies in Colombia, France and UK to a Masters degree level but also he has always kept a close contact with popular music. Since his arrival to London in 2008, Alejandro has worked on cutting edge projects such as the theatre play The Death of Tintagel  (saltpeter), the films Between Two Worlds (Matmedia Productions), and Random11 ­(VertigoHeights) and with the band Morton Valence.

PlaywrightErik Patterson is a multi-award-winning American playwright based in Los Angeles. Most recently, Erik was awarded the Humanitas Prize in America for his film, Radio Rebel (Disney). He has pieces published by Heinemann and Smith & Kraus, and with Jessica Scott, he co-created the television series Out There for Vh1. Their film Another Cinderella Story won a Writers Guild Award for and was one of the highest rated cable movies of 2009. Erik is a graduate of Occidental College and the British American Drama Academy. We are incredibly happy to be working closely with Erik.

Michael – Sean Patterson trained at RADA and has performed in London in the West End and at the Riverside, Kings Head and other Fringe venues. Last year he performed with saltpeter in Wallace Shawn’s The Fever at the Brighton Festival which made the Outstanding Production list, and won 5 stars – Fringe Review.

Pianist – Kate Whitley is a 23 year old pianist and composer. Kate graduated from Kings College Cambridge University in 2011 with a Double First in Music and an MPhil in Composition with Robin Holloway. Her piano concerto performances include Bartok Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion , Rautavaara 1, Bartok 3, Berg Chamber Concerto, Shostakovich 2, and Brahms 1. She has studied at Margess International of Switzerland, Dartington International Summer School, and Prussia Cove IMS master classes, with Thomas Ades, Charles Owen and Rolf Hind. Her Wigmore Hall debut recital with clarinettist Mark Simpson is taking place in October 2012.

Richard Brautigan – Jamie Wood is a performer and theatre maker specialising in clown, devised performance and dance theatre, interested in creating work for a wide range of audiences. Recently he’s performed in Pina Bausch’s Nur Du and with internationally acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre. Icarus 2.0 in 2009 was shortlisted for two awards (Total Theatre Award- Best Devised Show and The Stage Acting Award- Best Ensemble) and his sell-out piece, Paperweight received a Fringe First in 2008, Edinburgh.  Jamie is currently making a solo show called Beating McEnroe.