Playwright Alice Birch and composer Tom Coult’s new opera Violet premieres this summer with 6 performances across the UK
Writer Alice Birch and composer Tom Coult are amongst the most compelling voices in their respective fields and their first opera, developed at Snape Maltings as part of its Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, is an opera for now and about now.
In a muddied nightdress, in a country kitchen, Violet finally smiles. For years, her tired daily routine has been dictated by the inescapable chime of the Clock Tower, until one night she feels time quicken. Suddenly an hour is lost – every day. As the hours disappear, long-held certainties evaporate and ordered society falls into disarray. With the townspeople in crisis, can Violet finally escape?
Violet was due to be premiered at the cancelled 2020 Aldeburgh Festival and will now open the 2022 Festival with two performances (3 & 5 June). Following the performances at Aldeburgh Festival, Music Theatre Wales will be touring the production to the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff (8 June), Theatre Clwyd in Mold (19 June), in London presented by the Royal Opera at Hackney Empire (23 June) and Buxton Festival (18 July).
Andrew Gourlay conducts the London Sinfonietta and a cast featuring Anna Dennis (Violet), Richard Burkhard (Felix) Frances Gregory (Laura) and Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks (The Clock Keeper). Anna Dennis replaces Elizabeth Atherton who has withdrawn due to personal circumstances. The creative team includes director Jude Christian, designer Rosie Elnile and costume designer Cécile Trémolières.
Violet is a co-production by Britten Pears Arts and Music Theatre Wales, staged in association with the London Sinfonietta. The London performance is co-produced and presented by The Royal Opera in association with Hackney Empire.
Alice Birch’s film work includes Mothering Sunday, Lady Macbeth, which won the BIFA for Best Screenplay in 2017 and was nominated for Outstanding Debut & Best British Feature BAFTA 2018. Alice has also written for TV, working on Normal People (BBC / Element Pictures) adapted from the novel by Sally Rooney. Alice has also worked on their forthcoming adaptation of Sally Rooney’s CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS. 2022 will see her new TV series, DEAD RINGERS, premiere on Amazon, on which Alice is the Lead Writer and Executive Producer. Alice was also in the writers’ room as Story Editor for Season 2 of Succession (HBO). In theatre, Alice has written [BLANK] (Donmar Warehouse / Clean Break); Orlando (Schaubühne, Berlin); La Maladie de la Mort (Bouffes du Nord); Anatomy of a Suicide, Ophelia’s Zimmer, Revolt. She said. Revolt again (Royal Court Theatre); We Want You To Watch (National Theatre); The Lone Pine Club (Pentabus); Little Light (Orange Tree); Little on the inside (Almeida/Clean Break); Salt (Comedie de Valence); and Many Moons (Theatre503).
Tom Coult composes playful and seductive music and has been championed by many of the UK’s major orchestras and ensembles, resulting in a series of acclaimed large-scale pieces including Beautiful Caged Thing for soprano Claire Booth and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Sonnet Machine for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and St John’s Dance (premiered by Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to open the First Night of the 2017 BBC Proms). In 2021 he was made Composer-in-Association with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, who have played his music on a number of occasions – the first major piece of his residency was Pleasure Garden, a concerto for violinist Daniel Pioro, also broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Alice Birch libretto
Anna Dennis Violet
Richard Burkhard Felix
Frances Gregory Laura
Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks The Clockkeeper
Rosie Elnile set designer
Cécile Trémolières costume designer
Jackie Shemesh lighting designer
Adam Sinclair animation
Andrew Gourlay conductor
Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 3 & 5 June. Tickets from £10 Sherman Theatre
Cardiff, 8 June (on sale soon) Theatr Clwyd
Mold, 19 June (on sale soon) Hackney Empire
London, 23 June. Tickets from £10 Buxton International Festival
Buxton, 18 July (on sale soon)
For further press information on Britten Pears Arts please contact:
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For further information on Music Theatre Wales please contact:
Elin Rees | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: 07917 308329
For further information on the London Sinfonietta please contact:
Tim McKeough | Email: mailto:email@example.com | 07547 349984
For further information on the Royal Opera House please contact:
Chloe Westwood | Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: 07717 311319
Notes to Editors
About Britten Pears Arts
Britten Pears Arts is a pioneering music, arts and heritage charity based on the Suffolk coast at two popular, historic visitor destinations: The Red House and Snape Maltings. Britten Pears Arts emerged from the creative partnership of Benjamin Britten, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, and his professional and personal partner, singer Peter Pears. Britten and Pears shared a progressive vision for music and the arts to be useful, helping people enhance and bring joy into their lives. Britten and Pears’ vision inspires all our activity, from work with the local communities to our national leadership roles in the fields of talent development and music, health and wellbeing. Britten Pears Arts was created through the merger of the Britten–Pears Foundation and Snape Maltings in 2020.www.brittenpearsarts.org
About Music Theatre Wales
Music Theatre Wales exists to breathe new life into opera and music theatre as contemporary forms of artistic expression. Based in Wales, we are changing the way opera is made and perceived, by addressing who makes it, by reaching out to new and more diverse audiences, and by creating new work that responds to and reflects society: Giving opera a new voice and new ownership; celebrating opera as a multidisciplinary form.
About London Sinfonietta
The London Sinfonietta is one of the world’s leading contemporary music ensembles. Formed in 1968, our commitment to making new music has seen us commission over 450 works and premiere many hundreds more.
Our ethos today is to constantly experiment with the art form, working with the best composers and performers and collaborating with artists from alternative genres and disciplines. We commit to challenging perceptions, provoking new possibilities and stretching our audiences’ imaginations, often working closely with them as creators, performers and curators of the events we stage. Resident at Southbank Centre and Artistic Associate at Kings Place, with a busy touring schedule, the London Sinfonietta’s core 18 Principal Players are some of the finest musicians in the world. As well as our commitment to reaching new audiences with world-class performances of new music, the organisation holds a leading position in education work. We believe that arts participation is transformational to individuals and communities, and that new music is relevant to all our lives.
These values are enacted through primary and secondary school concerts across the UK, interactive family events, and the annual London Sinfonietta Academy; an unparalleled opportunity for young performers and conductors to train with us. We have also broken new ground by launching a new digital Channel, featuring video programmes and podcasts about new music. We also created Steve Reich’s Clapping MusicApp for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, a participatory rhythm game that has been downloaded over 400,000 times worldwide. Recent recordings include Ryan Latimer's NMC Debut Disc Antiarkie (NMC; 2021), Josep Maria Guix's Images of Broken Light (Neu Records; 2020), and Marius Neset’s Viaduct (ACT; 2019).
About the Royal Opera
The Royal Opera, under the artistic direction of Antonio Pappano, Music Director, and Oliver Mears, Director of Opera, is one of the world’s leading opera companies. Based in the iconic Covent Garden theatre, it is renowned both for its outstanding performances of traditional opera and for commissioning new works by today’s leading opera composers, such as George Benjamin, Harrison Birtwistle, Mark- Anthony Turnage and Thomas Adès.