Published on 24/08/20


Planning for the production of our next opera

Published on 24/08/20


VIOLET  by Tom Coult and Alice Birch – a co-commission and co-production with Britten Pears Arts and Theater Magdeburg

It’s over four months since we were forced to postpone the world premiere of Violet, and yet the impossibility of genuine planning due to the Coronavirus pandemic still holds us in its grip. The opera should have opened as part of the 202o Aldeburgh Festival, just a few days after Tom Coult’s new Violin Concerto was due to be premiered by Daniel Pioro and the BBC Philharmonic. 2020 would have been a big summer for Tom, but like so many others, he has been forced to wait. Nevertheless, we and our co-producers remain deeply committed to ensuring that Violet reaches the stage at the earliest and safest moment, and we are working towards this time, balancing optimism and caution. It’s a beautifully written and deeply considered work which somehow manages to hit the Zeitgeist, starting as it does with a total breakdown of the old order due to a catastrophic and uncontrollable event. Little did they know!

Our plan is to premiere Violet in April 2021 at Snape, the home of Benjamin Britten’s Aldeburgh Festival, and to present it on tour in Wales and possibly at one or two additional venues in England in the following months. We put this plan in place in April this year, and as things currently stand we have every hope we can stick to it, but none of us are in a position to confirm one way or another. We are dependent on the venues being willing and able to open their doors and present this exciting new opera, and they are dependent on securing sufficient finances to ensure their longer term survival and on audiences being willing to return as soon as they can open.

Despite the continued uncertainty, the creative team are continuing to work on the design so that we will be ready to go as soon as we believe we can go into rehearsal in March and perform in April. And what a team we have:

  • Conductor Andrew Gourlay
  • Director Jude Christian
  • Designer Rose Elnile
  • Lighting Designer Joshua Pharo

Here’s a summary of the story to whet your appetite:
It’s set in a community which runs on a strict schedule dictated by the village clock, and managed by the men in authority.  As the clock inexplicably begins to lose one hour each day, order turns into chaos. As everything and everyone starts to fall apart, Violet senses there is a new life to be discovered and sets out to find it. The narrative arc is very different to many works in the traditional opera repertoire: the heroine begins isolated and unhappy, but her sense of liberation and agency begin to grow as relationships shift, fears build and time itself begins to collapse. This is an opera which responds to the mounting call for works with relevance to contemporary life and especially on the portrayal of women, a powerful feature of Alice Birch’s writing for stage, TV and film.


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