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Six-Word Operas

Thursday 11th & Friday 12th August, 19.45
Warehouse Ensemble


Producer & Musical Director: James Young

Featuring: Natalie Raybould, John Savournin

The Warehouse Ensemble:
Clarinet/Basset Horn: Peter Cigleris
Cello: Rosalind Acton
Percussion: Matthew West,
Piano: James Young, David Eaton

The Warehouse Ensemble returns to the festival with a raft of world premiere operatic snapshots inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-word story For Sale: baby shoes, never worn. Last year’s triumphant evening featured tales of zombie attacks, failed contraception and train delays. Surreal, intense, touching and hilarious; glimpse into the minds of some of the UK’s most audacious composers.

Music: Darren Bloom, Nicholas Bootiman, Samuel Bordoli, Owen Bourne, Phillip Cooke, Gregory Emfietzis, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Martin Gaughan, Jordan Hunt, Brian Inglis, Matthew Lee Knowles, Christopher Scobie, Philip Venables, Matthew West, James Young.
Words: by the composers, various authors, anon and Annie Bootiman.

Six word stories became an internet fad a few years ago, spearheaded by Wired magazine’s challenge to a number of eminent writers to emulate Ernest Hemingway’s (purportedly) bet-winning and favourite work: For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. I first read about the concept in one of London’s now-defunct free papers, and was struck by the effect a six-word libretto might have on a composer – or a lot of composers – and the effect a slideshow-like presentation of tiny operatic snapshots of intense meaning might have on an audience.

The first, vast raft of Six Word Operas was performed at the Rosemary Branch Festival in 2009, and a selection of these was presented at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival 2010. I feel immensely privileged that so many of our finest and busiest young composers have donated their time to this project – many of these pieces were written in a single day, forcing an unusually direct and unselfconscious outpouring of musical substance. This year we present 15 brand-new dramatic works dealing with Greek mythology, torture, memory loss, cardiac arrest, flat batteries, sexual desire, vanity, broken promises, vampire lust and what to do with a dead whale…