Sat 8 Aug 7pm & Sun 9 Aug 2009
Golden Hat Opera is the brainchild of Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and Natalie Raybould. Natalie and Cheryl were keen to develop a large scale project, since earlier collaborations had been very well received. Their idea evolved into a chamber opera featuring three female characters all sung by one soprano. It was whilst discussing ideas and angles of approach with a mutual friend that Paul was suggested as the perfect wordsmith for their purposes.
The excitement about the thought of creating highly personalised narratives that, between them, highlighted the epic in the small: the niggling doubts and circumstances that eat away at us and cloud our perceptions and all the inevitable comparisons with friends and colleagues that these thoughts engender.
Three women – Sarah, Tania and Leonora – now all in their mid-thirties, prepare for an evening out. Fifteen years ago, they had shared a house together at university with a fourth woman, Dorothy, whose hen night the three of them are readying themselves to attend.
The characters of the three women are very loosely based on Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion from the classic The Wizard of Oz. Whereas in the film each character lacks, respectively, a brain, a heart and ‘the nerve’, in the libretto these shortcomings take their more modern-day equivalents: an inferiority complex, a problem committing to serious long-term romantic relationships, and the courage required by a wife to leave a husband whose constant belittling of her is chipping away at her self-esteem.
The shadow of the unseen Dorothy figure looms large throughout the piece. As each woman invokes her – or her memories of her – we discover much not only about ‘Dorothy’ but about the three characters themselves. And as each character is allowed her time on stage, we discover that there are three subtly different ‘Dorothies’ in evidence here, as might, of course, be expected, but, in every case, the singer is looking to her own Dorothy to help her through her own very personal crisis.
Music: Cheryl Frances-Hoad
Words: Paul Wilkinson
Soprano: Natalie Raybould
Clarinet: Catriona Scott
Cello: Oliver Coates
Bassoon: Tom Oxley
Cheryl Frances-Hoad received her musical education at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Cambridge University and Kings College London. Her works have won many prizes and awards and she is in ever increasing demand as a composer, with her music being described as “mercurial, impassioned, and always compelling in its authority” (The Spectator), and “highly wrought, yet piled high with emotional content” (The Guardian). www.cherylfranceshoad.co.uk
Natalie Raybould; soprano and actress read music at Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Music, London. She specialises in the most challenging of contemporary repertoire, and has been critically acclaimed in opera and musical theatre, and also on the concert platform. Natalie is proud to be a part of the Tête à Tête Opera Festival for the third year running.
Paul Wilkinson is the author of the critically acclaimed book Rat Salad (Random House) – a love-letter to his boyhood heroes, the 1970s rock band Black Sabbath. He has contributed to Classic Rock, The Scotsman and many other publications. His second novel, The Biography of a Total Stranger, is due out in 2010.