rough for opera #5

Scars: synopsis and programme


  Kate Whitley (music)

Stephanie Ndoungo (libretto)

  Joanna Songi soprano

Jude Carlton percussion

Jenny Coombes viola

Michael Pearce bass clarinet

Kate Whitley piano

  Christopher Stark conductor

  Scars, which is based on Reporting to the Doctor by Stephanie Ndoungo, came out of a collaboration that took place in December 2012 between the Human Rights Charity Freedom From Torture, opera-club-night Carmen Elektra, and record label ‘Nonclassical’. Members of Freedom From Torture’s creative writing group ‘Write To Life’, which provides Freedom From Torture’s clients with a creative outlet for their experiences and a way to explore the torture from their past and the difficulties of living in exile, were paired with composers from Carmen Elektra Opera Collective; Scars came out of that collaboration. The text is based on Stephanie’s account of her experience of having a medical examination of the scars on her body, on the basis of which evidence to support her case for asylum was put together.

  Kate Whitley is a 23-year-old composer who has written 3 operas to date: Bonesong, premiered in Cambridge zoology museum, Unknown Position in an underground bar, and Terrible Lips, a science-fiction dance-opera in a disused warehouse. Her work has been supported by the Arts Council of England, British Council Composers Travel Bursaries, Holst Foundation, The Golsoncott Foundation, RVW Trust, Newton Trust, Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust, and more. In 2011 The Times wrote: “A generation tainted by nothing except enthusiasm, daring, virtuosity and idealism is blazing onto the scene. Kate Whitley is typical of this bold new breed.

Jude Carlton (percussion) is currently studying timpani and percussion

at the Royal College of Music. Before this he spent a year as

specialist music assistant at Wells Cathedral School, after graduating

from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, in 2011 with a

1st class honours degree in Music. Whilst at Cambridge he played

percussion in all the major orchestras as well as performing as a

soloist in Bartok’s Concerto for two pianos and percussion with CUMS 1

under Dmitri Sitkovetskty. Jude is also a composer and has a

particular interest in performing new music; in November 2012 he

premiered Kate Whitley’s double concerto for clarinet and percussion

with the Outcry Ensemble.

  Jenny Coombes (viola) graduated from the Royal College of Music,

London in 2010 with first class honours, and in 2012 from an MA at

Zurcher Hochschule der Kunste with where she studied with Professor

Christoph Schiller. She has made concerto appearances in Guildford,

London and Guernsey with the Guildford YMCA Orchestra and the

Orchestra of Situation Opera. She has studied with Nobuko Imai,

Hariolf Schlichtig and Lawrence Power, and taken part in master

classes with Edward Vandespaar, Paul Silverthorne and Gilad Karni. Her

chamber music interests have led her to perform in venues such as the

Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall and Radio Suisse (Lausanne), and she has

collaborated with artists such as Nicholas Daniel, Natalie Clein,

Priya Mitchell and Guy Ben-Ziony. Upcoming concerts include several

quartet and trio concerts at the Purcell Room and Royal Opera House

Crush Room.

  Raphaela Papadakis (soprano) is currently studying with Janice Chapman

on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama,

generously supported by JM Finn & Co, the EM Behrens Charitable Trust,

the Williams Gibbs Trust, and a Postgraduate Performance Award

administered by the Musician’s Benevolent Fund. Her roles at Guildhall

have included Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Aurore in

Massenet’s Le portrait du Manon, Tytania (cover) in A Midsummer

Night’s Dream and excerpts from Don Giovanni, Tamerlano, Flight, Der

Rosenkavalier, Le nozze di Figaro, and La finta giardiniera. In

November 2012 she performed as Gretel in a suite of extracts from

Hänsel und Gretel with by the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra in the

Barbican Concert Hall, under the baton of Sir Colin Davis. Plans for

2012/13 include Haydn’s The Creation with Stephen Cleobury, Pierrot

Lunaire at Sutton House, London, and performances in the London Handel

Festival and the York Early Music Festival.

  Michael Pearce (bass clarinet) is currently in his first year of

postgraduate study at London’s Royal Academy of Music, studying under

the tutelage of Angela Malsbury, Chi-Yu Mo and Lorenzo Iosco. Michael

completed his undergraduate studies at Manchester’s Royal Northern

College of Music in 2012, where he studied with Nicholas Cox, Antonio

Salguero and Colin Pownall. Originally from Birmingham, Michael has

played both clarinet and bass clarinet professionally in orchestral

and chamber music ensembles throughout the UK, including the City of

Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. A versatile, multi-instrumentalist,

Michael has also played in many musicals and sessions and enjoys

collaborating with innovative, contemporary composers.

  Chris Stark (conductor) graduated from Cambridge in 2011. Operas

include Der Schauspieldirektor, Pelléas, Rake’s Progress, The Bear,

Herring (at Holland Park), Turn of the Screw, operas by Rust and

Whitley, Fanciulla and Carmen for OperaUpClose. As ETO Staff

Conductor, he assisted on The Lighthouse, Herring, Der Kaiser von

Atlantis, conducting Chadwick’s Unknown Port with Aurora Orchestra. He

was Assistant Conductor on Glyndebourne’s Imago. Upcoming, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Aldeburgh. Chris runs projects with Kate; he

conducted The Rite of Spring and Adams’ Harmonielehre in a Peckham

car-park and Penderecki and Ligeti in club-nights. He studied with

Martyn Brabbins in Orkney, and in masterclasses with Mark Elder and

Sian Edwards.


The Miller’s Wife: synopsis and biogs

The Miller’s Wife

Mike Christie music and libretto

Lindsay Bramley Winnie

Alexander Evans Bill Marner

Catherine Sagar Louisa

Stella Woodman Maude

Benjamin Holder Piano

Matthew Gould director

The Miller’s Wife, a full-length opera which will première as part of the Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre in London in August.

Bill Marner the miller has always wanted a child of his own but his wife Winnie is too infirm to bear children. So he decides to have a child with her carer Maude, who is also his mistress. Forced to flee from the village, Bill and his son William do not return for nearly twenty years. But when they do Bill wants to take his own life when he discovers that William is not his son after all. So will a secret that has been kept for nearly twenty years save William’s plans to marry Maude’s daughter Jessie and ultimately Bill’s life?

  Act I Scene One – Winter 1843, The Mill House, Burstow

This is the scene to be performed at rough for opera, which sets the tone for the whole opera and includes Maude’s aria “The windmill goes round and round” in which she talks about her situation – caring for the miller’s wife Winnie, falling in love with Bill the miller and how she came to be expecting his child.

Mike Christie has been heavily involved in music since the age of eight when he was a chorister, singing five church services a week and appearing in movies such as The Browning Version and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He later gained a scholarship and degree with honours at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in singing and piano. As a performer Mike has embarked on five solo UK tours and made his pantomime debut as Prince Charming in Exeter and Ludlow as well as his musical theatre debut as Flaminio Scala in the European première of The Glorious Ones at the Landor Theatre, London. He has written numerous pop songs and his arrangements include a four-part vocal a cappella version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. In Mike’s full-length opera The Miller’s Wife he has written the plot, libretto and score which was initially inspired by a discovery he made in his family tree. Mike is delighted to announce that the full opera will première as part of the Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre in London in August.

  Lindsay Bramley (Winnie)

Recent performances include Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot, The Medium, Mere d’Iseut Le Vin Herbe, Theodora The Judgement of Theodora, Michael Howard Newsnight, Emily Howard’s Songs of Dickens, Florence Albert Herring, Countess Pikovaya Dama, Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro, Ragonde Le Comte Ory. She will sing Butterfly’s Mother Madama Butterfly at Opera Holland Park 2013.

  Alexander Evans (Bill Marner)

Alexander studied music at Southampton University and is a former member of the National Youth Music Theatre, of Great Britain. On stage he has performed in musicals in the west end and on tour, most recently Masterclass (Vaudeville theatre) and Carousel (Opera North, Barbican). His opera credits include a variety of roles with Pavilion Opera and seasons with Young London Opera in Holland.

    Matthew Gould (Director)

Matthew has been directing for a number of years focusing on New Writing and Musical Theatre. Recently he adapted comedienne Janice Day’s book about getting over breast cancer for her one woman show, directed the recording of ‘Adolf Killed my Sweetheart’ for ALL FM radio. Also he directed the musical ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood‘ in London‘s West End and ‘The Secret Garden‘. Matthew will be directing the UK première of ‘My Favourite Madman’ by the Azerbaijani writer Elchin Afandiyev at The Tristen Bates Theatre in April prior to a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a new play ‘Blood and Honour’ by the writer Deep Singh.

  Benjamin Holder (Piano)

Benjamin studied music at Oxford University and is currently completing a Masters degree in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music. He works variously as an accompanist, coach and musical director in opera and musical theatre, in repertoire ranging from Cavalli to commercial pantomime!

  Catherine Sagar (Louisa)

Catherine is originally from Burnley, Lancashire and trained at Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom. Theatre includes: Polly Between Mouthfuls, Stella Ways and Means, Principal Singer Entertainment Connect, Evie Stop the World I want to Get Off, Mrs Pugh Under Milk Wood. Catherine is thrilled to be a part of The Miller’s Wife.

  Stella Woodman (Maude)

Stella studied at the RNCM and has sung in the chorus for Glyndebourne Opera, The English National Opera, Garsington Opera, Den NYE Opera and Grange Park Opera. Roles include Esmerelda, The Bridesmaid and Alice for Glyndebourne, First Boy for Diva Opera, 2nd Cretan for Birmingham Opera and Ruby in Christopher Bowers Broadbent’s The Face at Gray’s Inn.