Music by Bernard Hughes. Libretto by William Radice, after a story by Saki
Egbert – Edmund Connolly
Lady Anne, his wife – Cicely Yeovil
Don Tarquinio, their cat – Eamonn Mulhall
Lucretia, their bullfinch – Pamela Hay
Musical director – Tom Hammond
Director – Sebastian Armesto
Designer – Rebolina Desmond
SYNOPSIS – back to top
‘Egbert came into the large, dimly lit drawing-room with the air of a man who is not certain whether he is entering a dovecote or a bomb factory.’
It is tea-time and Egbert is seeking to make peace with his wife after their lunchtime quarrel, but his various approaches falter in the face of Lady Anne’s implacable resistance. Their cat, the elegant and well-read Don Tarquinio, offers his sardonic take on the situation, demonstrating his disdain for the humans – but a lively interest in the musical bullfinch, Lucretia. Meanwhile, Egbert’s ever more desperate attempts to appease his wife meet with no success.
‘He looked at Lady Anne nervously through his glasses. To get the worst of an argument with her was no new experience. To get the worst of a monologue was a humiliating novelty.’
Will Egbert achieve a reconciliation with Lady Anne before Don Tarquinio reveals the lengths to which he will go in his pursuit of a feathered dinner?
This darkly-comic chamber opera by Bernard Hughes and William Radice is based on a short-story by the Edwardian writer Saki. Dumbfounded! brings to operatic life the work of a minor genius of English literature, through its black comedy, sinister atmosphere, sharp social satire and the freewheeling fantasy of talking animals doing dark deeds.
Dumbfounded! is part of a projected longer opera setting other Saki stories currently being developed by Bernard Hughes and William Radice. For more information please contact email@example.com
Bernard Hughes has written for a number of leading ensembles and soloists. Recent works for voices include The Death of Balder, commissioned by the BBC Singers and broadcast on Radio 3, and a children’s opera, also with William Radice, for W11 Opera in 2006. In 1999, Bernard won the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe.
William Radice is a poet, translator and librettist. He has written more than 30 books, including 10 books of poems, and is well known for his translations of Tagore. His latest book of poems, the dancing mouse/die tanzende maus, was published in June 2008 by Hirundo Press in Hamburg.
Tom Hammond is Artistic Director of the ensemble sound collective and the Mackerras Fellow in Conducting at Trinity/Laban. In 2005 Esa-Pekka Salonen selected Tom to participate in the Sibelius International Conductors’ Competition with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Sebastian Armesto co-founded the theatre company Simple 8. He directed and co-adapted their production of Les Enfants du Paradis, and wrote and directed their most recent production The Living Unknown Soldier. He also works as an actor.
Rebolina Desmond trained at the Mountview College of Theatre Arts. Her design work includes In Flame at the Pleasance, and The Seagull at the Chelsea Theatre.
Eamonn Mulhall was born in Wexford and read French Literature and Music at University College Dublin and Education at Trinity College Dublin. He trained at the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio. He has performed with Grange Park Opera, Opera Theatre Company, Royal Albert Hall, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the London Handel Festival.
Edmund Connolly studied at Cambridge University and the GSMD. He has performed with companies including Pavilion Opera, Opera Brava, ETO and Glyndebourne Festival Opera in roles including Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva, and Dr Falke. He also sings regularly with choral societies around the UK and has performed most major oratorio repertoire as a soloist.
Pamela Hay has performed roles at Houston Grand Opera, Opera Holland Park, British Youth Opera, Wigmore Hall Education and Buxton Opera House. She has given recitals at ROH Covent Garden and internationally. She regularly appears as a concert soloist and will sing Bach’s Cantata 51 in Dresden this autumn.
Cicely Yeovil is a distinguished actor and singer; this is her first operatic role.