The Art of Venus

The Art of Venus 

first performed at RADA Studio Theatre, London, as part of the 2017 Tête à Tête Opera Festival  

5 singers, 4 instruments, 35 minutes 

 

The global search has begun for the first humans to set foot on Mars and make it their home. In 2032, as the spacecraft hurtles through space, humanity holds its breath… can the planet be colonised? But will Venus take it lying down? A short, post-baroque opera about the power of the gods - and a myth waiting to happen. Contains adult themes. 

 

ORIGINAL CAST 

Venus  Kate Symonds-Joy (mezzo-soprano)

Mars  Dominic Bowe (baritone)

Soprano Earthling  Helen Bailey

Tenor Earthling  Daniel Joy

Bass Earthling  Christopher Foster

Music  Edward Lambert

Text  Max Waller 

Conductor  Olivia Clarke

Director  Rebecca Meltzer

Accordion  Bartosz Glowacki

Violin  Maria Fiore Mazzarini 

Cello  Tom Isaac

Opera With A Title

first performed at Kings Place, London as part of the 2015 Tete a Tete Opera Festival

production made possible with support from the RVW Trust, Golsoncott Foundation and Gemma Classical Music Trust

Sung in English and Spanish. Duration 50 minutes

 

Drawn from two plays by Lorca, this surrealist opera explores the theme of identity. What the actors are playing, and what is happening to them in the real world, are confused: they bring their fantasies to bear on their performances while their characters invade their own personalities. Thus, role-play and questions of gender are examined, each from the other's viewpoint, as well as the nature of theatre and its relevance to everyday life. Includes material of an adult nature 

CHARACTERS

 THE SPECTATOR, a Fascist sympathiser - bass

DIRECTOR (FEDERICO), a playwright & impresario (male) - mezzo-soprano

MANUEL, a stagehand - baritone

SOFIA, a singer - soprano

JOSÉ, a singer - tenor

The Tenor, Baritone & Bass also appear as THE THREE WIZARDS on WHITE HORSES

 

Instruments: horn, violin, cello, (digital) harpsichord 

 

ORIGINAL CAST:

Peyee Chen (Sofia)

Laura Kelly-McInroy (Director)

Daniel Joy (José)

James Schouten (Manuel)

Christopher Foster (Spectator)

Daniel de Souza horn

Ariel Lang violin

Lydia Hillerudh cello

Edward Lambert digital harpsichord 

Image design: Yulia Shtern

Masks: Colin Mayes

Director: David Edwards

Conductor: Ed Spanjaard

The Catfish Conundrum 

first performed at Kings Place, London

as part of the 2014 Tete a Tete Opera Festival and revived for the Brighton Fringe, May 2015 

 

London, 1971: a gallery exhibits a tank of catfish. The Press is indignant: ‘Animal cruelty!’ 'Is this art?' Spike Milligan, the Arts Council, the artist and, finally, President Reagan all have their say. And the Catfish? Could this be the only opera in which the heroine is killed - and eaten? A musical potboiler!  

More 

 

CAST 

A Catfish (soprano) 

Lord Arnold Goodman, Chairman of the Arts Council (bass) 

Spike Milligan, a protester & celebrity comedian (tenor) 

Newton Harrison, the artist (baritone) 

Ronald Reagan, later President of USA (mezzo-soprano) 

Narrative chorus: members of the cast 

  

INSTRUMENTS 

[Electric] violin & cello

Six Characters in Search of a Stage

chamber opera after the play by Pirandello 

first performed May 2014 mini-tour: Brighton Fringe, The Forge Camden, Chiswick & Kintbury 

Duration 55 minutes 

Six Characters enter an empty theatre determined to stage their drama - but first they need to convince the sceptical Director that their opera is really good. We are drawn into a tragic tale of incest, murder and suicide worthy of any grand opera.

But is it for real? If it actually happened - how can it be true? The Characters' mysterious story raises more questions than it can possibly answer...

 

 

still to come…

 

The Butterfly’s Spell 

 

Chamber Opera after the play El maleficio de la mariposa by Federico Garcia Lorca

 

for 7 singers and 7 instrumentalists     70’       2017   (awaiting production)

 

 

Overview 

The Butterfly’s Spell is a chamber opera based on an early play by Federico Garcia Lorca. An expressionist or symbolist drama arising from the writer’s identity issues, it depicts the world of insects - giving fine opportunities for exotic costumes and staging.  It tells how a Poet Beetle rejects the love of the devoted Sylvia in favour of an impossible infatuation with a fragile Butterfly whose destiny it is to fly away, leaving the Poet to die of a broken heart. A sad tale, but a comic opera which also features a drunken Scorpion, an overbearing Mother and Two Fireflies which glow in the dark. Suitable for all ages.

 

Duration: 70 minutes  (Act 1 - 40 minutes, Act 2 - 30 minutes, interval optional) 

 

 

 

Characters

Sylvia, a young lady beetle & The Butterfly - soprano (& dancer)

Two Young Fireflies, girl & boy    - soprano & mezzo-soprano            

Mother Beetle, an elderly lady - contralto

The Poet Beetle, Mother Beetle’s son - tenor

Doctor Cockroach, healer and teacher - baritone

The Old Scorpion, a forester - bass

 

Instruments

Violin, viola, cello, flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), bassoon, marimba, harp

 

Text and adaptation © Edward Lambert 2017. The author's rights are asserted. 

 

Synopsis 

 

The philosophising Doctor tells the audience how he once heard a tale about a young Poet Beetle who fell in love with a Butterfly and came to a sorry end. As the stage is transformed into the insects' village and the sun rises in a brilliant dawn, he meets the Poet's Mother to whom he expresses some foreboding at the signs he has seen. He makes his way home and the Mother goes about her chores, while Two Young Fireflies introduce Sylvia, a wealthy young lady who is threatening to drown herself for love. The Mother knows full well that the object of her infatuation is her son, the Poet, and when he enters she resolves to see the couple married. He, however, is pre-occupied with writing a poem and there follows a lively trio. When the young pair is finally left alone, he cannot bring himself to propose and Sylvia departs broken-hearted. 

 

In the heat of the day, the Old Scorpion enters the scene. He is rough and rude and constantly drunk. He teases and chases the young Fireflies, who are rescued when the Mother rushes in, brandishing her broom. Just at that moment, an injured Butterfly is brought in (played by the same singer as Sylvia). Everyone gathers round, concerned for her fate and awe-struck by her beauty. Her wounds are tended to, and she sings of strange things in far-off places. It quickly becomes obvious that the Poet has fallen deeply in love with her. The act ends in fear and sorrow as the sun sets. 

 

By way of an interlude, in the cool of the evening the insects relax, singing a famous ballad about the moon disguised as a lady who came to the gypsy's forge and abducted a young lad.  

 

The Doctor resumes the story. The Butterfly is brought to a forest clearing bathed in moonlight which will help cure her wounds. Her song becomes more melodious as she recovers and the glowing Fireflies - who drink sweet dew-drops and sing of love - appear in her dreams. The Poet enters, filled with longing for the beautiful Butterfly and for a few moments their voices intertwine. They know, however, that her destiny is to fly away.  

 

The Scorpion is now hungry and, coming across the Butterfly, decides to make her into a tasty meal. The Poet protects her, but the Scorpion's tail lashes out at him and he is stung by its deadly venom. The Mother’s stick prevents further catastrophe, but she is too late to save her son who dies as the dawn breaks and the Butterfly takes flight. As the Fireflies cover the Poet in rose petals, the cast reminds us that the Poet's songs will live forever.