Welsh National Opera
Saturday 26 July & Sunday 27 July, 2014
Platform Theatre Central Saint Martins
“I am committed to telling the stories of our time and ANON, my twelfth opera is no exception to that mission. Many of the stories I have set have been in order to give voice to those peoplewhose stories have previously gone untold. However, when I was asked by Welsh National Opera to compose an opera for young people on the theme of the exploitation of young women across the world – based on the Abbé Prévost novel, Manon Lescaut
– I was, at first, reluctant. In the novel, on which so many operas have been based, Manon has no voice – she is an object of desire, appearing to have few thoughts or feelings of her own.
After leading workshops with young girls from many different cultural backgrounds and exploring with them the themes of Manon Lescaut – young love, running away, the defiance of parental and social pressure, taking a wrong step and unwittingly falling into danger – I got excited about how I could adapt and contemporise the story. My thanks are forever extended to those girls from the RSA Academy (Tipton, Birmingham) and Newman University (Bartley Green, Birmingham). Later on, having finished the first draft of the script, I also interviewed sex workers, who were able to elucidate and enlighten me as to aspects of the story.
ANON is made up of several short scenes where the audience is encouraged to consider the situation rather than the precise identity of the protagonists (who are simply called Girl 1, Girl 2 and Girl 3, Actor 1 and Actor 2), hence the title of the opera. We all could find ourselves in any of the situations depicted. Furthermore, although it is possible to trace a narrative through-‐line, this too is deliberately disrupted and made opaque.
ANON is for three sopranos and two female actors. The scoring is for piano/keyboards, cello and percussion”.
London, January 2014
Music & Words: Errollyn Wallen
Music Director: Stuart Wild
Director: Wils Wilson
Movement Consultant: Piali Ray
Designer: Amanda Stoodley
Costume Co-‐ordinator: Charlotte Neville
Lighting Designer: Anna Barrett
Sound Design: Steve Lewinson, Errollyn Wallen (featuring Tim Harries on bass guitar)
WNO Producer: Åsa Malmsten
WNO Production Manager: Michael Robinson
WNO Youth & Community Director: Rhian Hutchings
Stage Manager: Helen Gorton
Deputy Stage Manager: Brenda Knight
Technical Assistant: Taylor Bradley
Sopranos: Joanna Foote, Sara Lian Owen, Claire Wild
Soprano cover: Rebecca Van Den Berg
Actors: Anneika Rose, Shin-‐Fei Chen
Piano/Keyboards: Stuart Wild
Percussion: James Gambold
Cello: Joseph Spooner
Where are you from? I was born in Belize but grew up in London.
You wrote the music and text for this piece – what was your approach? In the music for ANON, I am using every device and technique: from baroque – through modern, contemporary classical music – to contemporary club music, as well as a variety of song forms. This is to convey the diversity of the world around us. The text is loosely based on the novel Manon Lescaut and interviews with real people. We should believe that the young women on stage could be from anywhere and that we could recognise ourselves in them.
Where are you from? I’m from Worcester, and studied at Bristol University, Trinity College London and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Could you describe the music? It’s rare, in opera, to encounter so many different styles in one piece – from baroque parody to club and rave music – but it all flows very naturally! Although there are only three players on stage, it’s fascinating how varied a soundscape Errollyn has created. Coincidentally, the “band” is made up of three men – so we are certainly outnumbered!
Where are you from? I was born in Huddersfield, but I’ve lived in London, Prague, Manchester, Shetland, the US and now – with my young family – in West Yorkshire.
What do you think about the piece?It’s fascinating working with a mixture of actors, singers and musicians – they all bring particular skills, cultures and experiences of telling stories through performance. There’s the opportunity for depth of communication. It feels like a rich mixture. I’ll be happy if, when people leave the performance, they look a little differently at those – especially young women – they pass in the street.
Piali Ray (Director, Sampad)
Where are you from? Originally from Kolkata, India, I now live in Birmingham.
What is your role, and what are you trying to communicate about the piece?I have played a small part in the research and creative process of ANON and it is exciting to see the stories we heard in Birmingham expressed so movingly in the text and music of the piece.
What strikes you about ANON? The private suffering of women at the hands of gender-‐based oppression, violence and sexual assault has – for the last twenty years – been contained in the dialogue of academic discourse and governmental statistics; nevertheless, the problem still remains. I see the Arts as an influential vehicle for inciting and catalysing change. ANON will make a mark in that movement for change.