Thursday 2 August 19.00 – 19.50
Friday 3 August 15.00 – 15. 50; 19.00 – 19.50
Rudyard Kipling wrote the Just So Stories to entertain his Best Beloved infant son and daughter. He created in prose a primitive world of mythical transformations through which a Leopard got his spots, a Rhino his thick skin, a Whale his throat, and dogs, horses, cows and cats became domesticated. Our opera takes the renowned characteristics of these creatures, and retells the stories mostly in verse, exploring them through modern operatic voices and action.
A welcoming Chorus conjures a primitive world in which a Leopard tells us things, and creatures were not as they have come to be. A Narrator of those times and climes introduces us in turn to a tireless, toiling woman in a cave, and to the wild Dog, Cat, Horse and Cow. One by one the creatures succumb to the easy life with human beings. All except the Cat.
There follows the story of the hungry Whale and his pilot Fish who suggests eating Man, which the whale does, guided to where H.A Bivvens (a shipwrecked delirious seaman) is marooned. A smooth-skinned Rhino steals a Parsi Man’s cake and brings revenge upon himself when the Parsi contrives a fitting punishment. Through inflictions thermal, the Rhino turns pachydermal. Bivvens and the Fish contrive to ram the Whale’s throat with a wooden grate and though they succeed, poor Bivvens hasn’t taken the precaution of finding himself on the right side of it.
The boastfully individual Cat (now all alone) regrets it and is asked to wait till the moon is ripe. Meanwhile the Leopard, hungry because his prey has gone to the shaded woods, is led to them and changes his strategy in colourful ways. The full moon comes, and the Narrator’s stratagem turns herself into a mouse to frighten the Woman whom the Cat can rescue from this fear and be invited to become domestic and dignified. Each animal gains his or her form, shape and nature, and our concluding Chorus celebrates the variety of a wonderful world.
Music/ Conductor: Danyal Dhondy
Words: Farrukh Dhondy
Director: Jatinder Verma
Musical Director: Catherine Herriott
Design: Claudia Mayer
Costumes: Buffy Sharpe
Assistant Musical Director: Oliver Weeks
Producers: Tara Arts and Lucid Arts, Suman Bhuchar, Danyal Dhondy and Farrukh Dhondy
Narrator / Parsee / Horse: Sohini Alam
Woman / Rhino: Felicity Hayward
Cat / Fish: Rebecca Moon
Whale / Leopard / Cow: Dionysios Kyropoulos
H.A. Bivvens / Dog: Ezra Williams
Understudies: Fleur De Bray, Marc Stagg
Piano: Catherine Herriott
Clarinet / Alto Sax: Ross Newton
Violin: Flora Curzon
Double Bass: Hugh Christie
Percussion: Hassan Mohveddin
Danyal Dhondy (music, conductor & producer): Danyal is a composer and arranger who works across a diverse range of genres. He also plays the violin, viola and piano, and works extensively in theatre, composing, recording and performing as an M.D. in London. His critically-acclaimed arrangements of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci for OperaUpClose brought a nomination for an Arts Fellowship Award in Opera Composition.
Farrukh Dhondy (words, producer): Farrukh is a novelist, playwright and screenplay writer. He was a Commissioning Editor for Multicultural programmes for Channel 4 from 1984 to 1997. He is the winner of the Samuel Becket prize for the best TV play and writer of among other screenplays Bandit Queen and The Rising. His latest publications include The Bikini Murders, Adultery and Other stories and Rumi, a New Translation.
Jatinder Verma (director): Jatinder is co-founder and Artistic Director of Tara Arts, the pioneering cross-cultural theatre company which marked its 30th year in 2007 with a critically-acclaimed production of The Tempest. The company tours nationally and internationally, and co-producers with Tara Arts include the National Theatre.
Catherine Herriott (Musical Director): Catherine graduated from Trinity College of Music, studying piano under Deniz Gelenbe and Philip Fowke. As well as working as accompanist for Junior Trinity College of Music’s String Time programme, she has played for recitals at venues throughout the UK. Catherine is an accomplished pit musician, having played keyboard for the National Youth Music Theatre production of Oklahoma! and piano and percussion in productions of, Kiss Me Kate, HMS Pinafore, Aladdin, Carmen, Rigoletto, La Bohème, and Die Fledermaus
Claudia Mayer (designer): Claudia trained under Percy Harris and Hayden Griffin and has designed for opera, ballet and theatre. She has designed many shows for Tara Arts and is currently working on ‘The Miser’ and ‘Bolly Whittington’, Tara’s Christmas show.
Buffy Sharpe (costumes): Buffy studied at her fashion-teacher mother’s knee, honed her skills as a teenage goth and has since designed and made a wide range of costumes. She set up Eclectic Costumes, which specialises in fantasy and historical stage-wear. Costumes fashioned since its inception include: Fairytale princes, numerous wenches, a dragon, several clowns, a load of Commedia Dell’arte, a modern-day Virgin Mary and a pin-striped, lace-throated dog jacket.