rough for opera #4

rough for opera no.04: 20.01.13

rough for opera returns to the Cockpit Theatre on 20th January 2013 with an eclectic programme of new chamber opera from young composers Danyal Dhondy, Peter Longworth and William Marsey.

A Sourdough Bread Recipe music William Marsey

The Secretary Turned CEO (a new adaptation by Becca Marriott and Danyal Dhondy of La Serva Padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi)

Pavane for an Invisible Princess music Peter Longworth

20.01.13, 8pm, tickets £6 in advance from The Cockpit Theatre

Gateforth Street, London, NW8 8EH


Danyal Dhondy  and Becca Marriott present a fresh adaptation of Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona, Peter Longworth brings a new staging of his street scene chamber opera Pavane for an Invisible Princess and William Marsey debuts his delicious opera about sourdough bread.

The Secretary Turned CEO

adapted by Becca Marriott and Danyal Dhondy from La Serva Padrona by Pergolesi

Pergolesi’s comic intermezzo La Serva Padrona tells the story of Serpina (Selena), a maid in Uberto (Hubert)’s household who has designs on becoming his wife. Our adaptation, The Secretary Turned CEO, is set in contemporary Britain, combining a new libretto and recitatives with re-arrangements of the original arias. We will be performing the second half of the opera.

Pavane for an invisible princess

by Peter Longworth

Pavane for an Invisible Princess is a street scene set during the turn of the Nineteenth Century in a bohemian quarter of a European city. Told through the gossip and speculation of the characters, the story questions the identity of a woman – living in a house at one end of the street – whom nobody has actually seen.

A Sourdough Bread Recipe

by William Marsey

Written post-The-Great-British-Bake-Off, this opera is about the emotional journey of making bread. The text is a recipe for sourdough, which is a bread leavened with naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts.

Danyal Dhondy is a London-based composer and arranger. Two of his operas were premiered in 2012: Just So (Tête à Tête Festival), and The Open Cage (The Yard). He has made arrangements for OperaUpClose and Malmö Opera. He has also arranged string parts for albums including Sam Lee’s Mercury-nominated Ground of its Own, and composed extensively for Kensington Chamber Orchestra.

Peter Longworth (b.1990) is studying for a Masters degree at the Royal College of Music with Mark-Anthony Turnage. He is a RCM Scholar supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds Award. His first short opera, Dante premiered at the Grimeborn Festival in 2009. Peter is currently Composer in Association of Maidstone Wind Symphony.

William Marsey works in an office, organises concerts and composes. He has most recently been involved in organising an orchestral concert in a car park and an opera in a crypt. Past vocal music has included settings of Wikipedia articles, homophobic preachings, and the fact that birds can literally see magnetic fields. 

A Sourdough Bread Recipe

A Sourdough Bread Recipe

  music: William Marsey

libretto: William Marsey / the internet

  Written post-The-Great-British-Bake-Off, A Sourdough Bread Recipe is about the emotional journey of making bread. The text is a recipe for sourdough, which is a bread leavened with naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts.

  Maud Millar: voice

Kate Whitley: piano

Guy Button: violin

James Toll: violin

  Finn Beames: director


William Marsey is a composer and concert organiser. He grew up in Hartlepool, read music and was a choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, and now studies composition with Giles Swayne. He runs concert series Listen Pony (, and alongside others organised an orchestral concert in Peckham Multistorey Car Park ( Recent vocal works have included song-set Blind Hot on the Wikipedia articles ‘Chilli-peppers’ and ‘Birds’, madrigal-set The Beauty of Sexuality on homophobic lyrics of some right-wing southern-state evangelist preachers, and song I Do Not Belong Here for Nonclassical, premiered at Café Oto. Future plans include a piece for Clarinettist Mark Simpson, performed St Martin-in-the-Fields mid-July.

  Finn Beames (director) is an artist across live media, and the artistic director of BODYCORPS with Kate Whitley. Previous directing and libretti include Terrible Lips: A Science Fiction Dance Opera in a disused Cambridge warehouse, Bonesong at the Edinburgh Fringe and a choreographed Schumann piano quintet at the Battersea Arts Centre. He has performed his own work in London and Berlin, and has been a resident practitioner at the Cambridge English Faculty, undertaking research into devotional crucifixion in the Philippines. He is also the co-creator of a community Passion narrative in Oxford, and has been resident director for Stephen Daldry and Julian Webber.

  Guy Button (violin) is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Artist Masters Programme, and Robinson College, Cambridge. His teachers include Maciej Rakowski, Yossi Zivoni and David Takeno. Guy is a founding member of the Ealdwic ensemble, a sextet whose work focuses on the music of the 20th and 21st Centuries, and he has performed as soloist with Solent Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Ensemble and the Academy of Performing Arts in Hong Kong. As a freelance musician he has performed with London Chamber Orchestra, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru and the London Contemporary Orchestra. 

Maud Millar is a graduate of Clare College, Cambridge, where she held a choral scholarship, and is currently studying with Susan McCulloch at the GSMD. In 2013, she was engaged by the LSO to sing Thomas Adès’ Five Eliot Landscapes under the composer himself, and will make her BBC Radio 3 debut in February 2013 singing Oliver Knussen’s Trumpets with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Notable operatic roles include Miss Wordsworth/Albert Herring (Shadwell Opera), Fiordiligi/Cosi Fan Tutte (Hampstead Garden Opera) and Nella/Gianni Schicchi (Opera Holland Park). Plans for 2013 include Gretel/Hansel and Gretel for Sinfonia D’Amici and a La Cugina/Madama Butterfly for Opera Holland Park.

James Toll (violin) – Since graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music, James has regularly appeared with Scottish Ensemble, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, The Academy of Ancient Music (as co-leader), as guest leader with the Jersey Chamber Orchestra, and he was recently been invited by eminent ‘cellist Jonathan Cohen to join newly-formed chamber ensemble Arcangelo. During 2013 James continues to appear with his long-standing duo partner John Paul Ekins, bringing performances to many music societies across the UK.

James would like to thank his extremely generous benefactor for the exclusive and long-term use of the wonderful violin by Carlo Antonio Testore (Milan ca. 1730).

Kate Whitley (piano) is a 23-year-old pianist and composer. She graduated from Cambridge University in 2011 with a Double First in Music and an MPhil in Composition with Robin Holloway. Concerto performances include Bartok Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion, Rautavaara 1st Concerto, Bartok 3rd Concerto, Berg Chamber Concerto, Shostakovich 2nd Concerto, and Brahms 1st Concerto. She also premiered her own Piano Concerto in 2009 under Sven Tpel at the Bishopsgate Institute, London. She has received scholarships to study at Margess International of Switzerland with Charles Owen, Dartington International Summer School with Andrew Zolinsky, and Prussia Cove IMS with Thomas Ades.

The Secretary Turned CEO

The Secretary Turned CEO (a new adaptation of La Serva Padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi)

music: Danyal Dhondy

libretto: Becca Marriott

Produced by Lucid Arts and Music

  Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona tells the story of Serpina (Selena), a maid in Uberto’s (Hubert’s) household who has designs on becoming his wife. After its Naples premiere in 1733, it was performed across Europe and went on to become the most celebrated comic intermezzo of the era, performed as light relief in between acts of an opera seria. Taking real life, lower-class characters for subject matter was a radical innovation, and what Pergolesi drew from the commedia dell’arte tradition became the basis for comic opera writing during the next two centuries.

  Our adaptation, The Secretary Turned CEO, transports the farcical scenario to a workplace in contemporary Britain, looking at status relationships as they are encountered in everyday life. Combining a new libretto with guitar-based arrangements of the original arias, interspersed with our own ‘recitatives’, we have tried to keep something of the original’s scandalous aesthetic.

  Diccon Cooper: bass

Danyal Dhondy: violin/keyboard

Toby Friend: guitar

Dionysios Kyropoulos: Hubert

Becca Marriott: Selena

Alberto Winters: Vespone)

  director: Becca Marriott

musical director: Danyal Dhondy


  Danyal Dhondy is a composer and arranger from South London, who specialises in opera and theatre music. Two of his operas were premiered this year: Just Soat this year’s Tête à Tête Festival, and The Open Cageat The Yard.

  His recent arrangement of Tosca, jointly commissioned by Malmö Opera and OperaUpClose, premiered in Sweden in September 2012, and is currently in production at the King’s Head. His previous arrangements for OperaUpClose (ofMadam Butterfly and Pagliacci), gained critical acclaim and led to a nomination for an Arts Foundation Award in Opera Composition.

Danyal also plays the viola, violin and piano, and works extensively in theatre, composing, recording and performing as an M.D. in London. He is currently working on new adaptations of The Miser and Dick Whittington for TARA Arts.

He has arranged and recorded strings for a host of bands and songwriters. One of his arrangements (for The Tan Yard Side) features on Sam Lee‘s album Ground Of Its Own, which has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize 2012. He has also made arrangements for Diagrams, Laura Hocking, The Rivers of England and David Mountain, and plays with Adam Donen, Khiyo and Beth and the Availables.

He has composed three pieces for Kensington Chamber Orchestra, including two settings of children’s poems for their family concerts.

  Becca Marriottbegan her career as an actress, improviser and stand-up comedian, returning to singing in 2009. Becca studied classical acting at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s junior academy for 4 years, before reading English Literature at The University of Oxford where she acted with the university dramatic society (OUDS) and the Oxford Imps (an improvised theatre collective); touring to Edinburgh and the USA. Her operatic credits include Serpina in a La Serva Padrona for City University, Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with the Thames Philarmonia and the Countess in Mozart’s classic The Marriage of Figaro with Aria Alba as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the title role in Tosca with OperaUpClose. Becca currently trains with Yvette Bonner of the Royal Academy of Music and Alison Wells of Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Becca has worked with Carl Rosa Opera, The Wedding Collective and esteemed composer and lutenist, Michael Fields. Her acting credits include: Hedda, Hedda Gabler – Corpus Christi Players, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth – New Players, Madam Lubov, The Cherry Orchard – Magdalen Players, American Girl, The Guardians – OUDS.

  Dionysios Kyropoulos was born in Veria, Greece. He read music at City University, took the City Opera course at City Lit, and studied at the Morley Opera School. He is currently studying singing with Robert Dean. Some of his full roles include Uberto La Serva Padrona, Plutone Euridice, Masetto Don Giovanni, Simone Gianni Schicchi, Polyphemus Acis and Galatea, Bartolo and Antonio Le Nozze di Figaro, the Imperial Commissioner Madame Butterfly and BadgerThe Cunning Little Vixen. He has sung with companies including MidAmerica Productions, Riverside Opera, Mantissa Opera, Barefoot Opera, Skull of Yorick Productions, Rose Opera Company, Unexpected Opera and Longborough Festival Opera.

  Alberto Prandini is a physical theatre actor who has performed all over Europe in a wide variety of theatre and dance shows (Kai in The Snow Queen- European Tour produced by The Birmingham Rep, Ariel in La Tempête – Theatre 13 Paris, Marco Polo Les Villes Invisibles – Musée du Louvre, Centre Pompidou to name a few). He is currently assistant director in a new production adapted from Philip Pullman’s book “I Was a Rat” which will open at the Birmingham Rep in February 2013, while also translating a French play called La Mastication des Morts, in which he will perform in the Summer of 2013.

Pavane for an Invisible Princess

Pavane for an Invisible Princess

Peter Longworth: music and libretto

  “Pavane for an Invisible Princess is a street scene set during the turn of the Nineteenth Century in a bohemian quarter of a European city.  Told through the gossip and speculation of the characters, the story questions the identity of a woman – living in a house at one end of the street – whom nobody has actually seen.

I was in the early stages of writing the libretto when I visited Giacomo Puccini’s house at Torre del Lago, and so he is somehow connected to this piece – not least in the drama’s setting in bohemian Europe.” Peter Longworth

  Barbara De Biasi: Piano

Emma Kerr: Old Lady/Prostitute 2

David Menezes: Writer

Jean-Baptiste Mouret: Old Man

Marion Wyllie: Woman/Prostitute 1

  director: Stuart Barker


  Peter Longworth (b.1990) grew up in Scotland where he began his musical education as a trumpet player. He began composing at the age of 14, and in 2008 he was awarded a scholarship by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied under composer, Matthew King, graduating with First Class Honours in 2012.

  Peter was awarded a scholarship to undertake an MMus in Composition at the Royal College of Music, where he is currently studying with Mark-Anthony Turnage. He is a RCM Scholar supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds Award. In addition to his scholarship from the RCM he has been awarded the further support of a Dewar Arts Award and scholarships from the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.  Peter is immensely grateful to these organisations for their generous help.

  Peter’s works have been performed by a number of ensembles including NYOS Futures, the Edinburgh Incidental Orchestra, and the Carnyx Trio. His music has been performed in Japan, Canada, Germany, Poland and Malta, as well as in British venues such as the Southbank Centre, Perth Concert Hall and The Forge. In 2009, his chamber opera, Dante premiered in the Grimeborn Festival. 

 Stuart Barker (Director) studied Physics with Astrophysics at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is Artistic Director of The Minotaur Music Theatre for whom he has directed more than twenty operas. Recent productions for other companies include Judith Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera, Stephen Oliver’s Euridice and L’elisir d’amore (all for British Youth Opera), La voix humaine (Kypria International Festival, Cyprus) and Suor Angelica and L’enfant et les sortilèges (RWCMD). Stuart has directed opera scenes for the RCM, RWCMD and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire and Birkbeck’s Opera Diploma Course, and regularly runs workshops for companies including BYO, Co-Opera Co and Advanced Performers Studio.

Barbara De Biasi (piano) has received a first-class honours BMus degree in piano at La Spezia’s Giacomo Puccini Conservatoire (Italy). She has studied with Academy Award winning composer, Luis Bacalov (Il Postino) and over the course of two years she received a special mention for her work in his class. She is currently in her final year of a BMus in Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, studying with Malcolm Singer. Barbara writes music for both short and feature films, silent films, theatre, ballet and art galleries. 

Emma Kerr (Mezzo) Born in Edinburgh, Emma is currently studying on the Guildhall Artists Masters Programme with John Evans. Emma has had such privileges as performing in Masterclasses with Sarah Connolly and Edith Wiens. Roles in opera scenes have included Dorabella Cosi fan Tutte, Pierrotto Linda di Chamounix, Didone L’Egisto and Mercedes Carmen. Emma performed as Nurse Annie Drummond in Iain Burnside’s Unknown Doors (Barbican Pit Theatre) and in Jonathan Miller’s staged Bach St Matthew Passion (National Theatre). Recital appearances include a Messiaen song recital at The Forge and Berlioz Les Nuits d’Ete. Emma is looking forward to her first season with Glyndebourne Festival Opera this summer, before continuing her training on the Guildhall Opera Course in September. She is kindly supported by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Sir James Caird’s Travelling Scholarships Trust and the Guildhall School.

David Menezes Born in Barnsley, David gained a degree in classics at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, before studying singing the Royal College of music.

Roles include, Colonel Fairfax , Yeomen of the Guard, Flute, AMidsummer Night’s Dream(British Youth Opera), Goro, Dr Caius, (Wexford Festival), Pierre, Wandering Scholar , Satyavan, Savitri (Minotaur Music Theatre), Ferrando, Mozart, Mozart & Salieri, Nanki-Poo, Earl Tololler, Richard Dauntless, Ralph Rackstraw , Frederic, (Charles Court Opera) Remendado, Carmen (Longborough Festival and Opera Project), Peter Quint/Prologue, Turn of the Screw (Opera Up Close), & cover Manager /Secretary Heart of Darkness (Opera East). 

Most recently, David has appeared as Jaquino, Fidelio, Spoletta ,Tosca, for New London Opera Players & Don Ottavio with Co-Opera.

Marion Wyllie is a Scottish soprano studying under the tutelage of John Evans. Having completed her BMus (Hons) at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, she is currently on a year out between postgraduate years at the conservatoire. Her roles include Despina Cosi fan tutte (HGO), Pamina Die Zauberflöte (Zezere Arts Festival), Second lady Die Zauberflöte, Rosalinda Die Fledermaus, Frasquita Carmen, Cleopatra Giulio Cesare (Guildhall Opera Ensemble Scenes), Anna Dante (Grimeborn) and Prostitue 1/Woman Pavan for an invisible Princess (GSMD), both by Peter Longworth. Future engagements include Petite Messe Solennelle and Mother Amahl and the Night Visitors.