The Song of Margery Kempe was conceived as a radically stripped-down sequel to my first opera Hildegard von Bingen (1997). A one-woman piece on Margery – a real housewife from medieval Norfolk – had been simmering in my mind for a while when I applied to the Bliss Trust for funding. Their (and Tête à Tête’s) positive reaction to the idea encouraged me to finish it in time for this concert première, which is designed as a stepping-stone to fully-staged productions in future.
Synopsis of Scenes
Margery, the wife of John, a respectable burgher of Lynn, has a successful brewing business in her own right, yet yearns for spiritual satisfaction after the birth of her first child. While attempting to pray, Margery is visited by a horrifying vision of demons, who tempt and mock her. She collapses, exhausted.
When she regains consciousness, she hears a heavenly melody which assures her of heaven and inspires her to weep for her past sins and dedicate her life to God.
Her excessive piety leads her to be denounced as a Lollard and tried as a heretic. Margery draws on Biblical parallels to justify her right to speak about God.
She is reprieved, but her behaviour forces her to withdraw from society, making her retreat further and further into her inner identification with Jesus Christ.
[Libretto based on The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery’s autobiography (the first written in the English language) ]
Brian Inglis was brought up in Germany and the UK. He gained an MA from City University, London, with Simon Holt (winning the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers’ prize) and a PhD with Rhian Samuel. In 2004 as the only UK participant in the Dundaga composition workshop he was interviewed for Latvian TV.
In the 1990s Brian extensively explored the life and writings of St Hildegard of Bingen in chamber settings (performed at the 1992
Huddersfield Festival), choral music (performed by the BBC Singers in 1997), an opera (Hildegard von Bingen, 1997) and an oratorio
Visions of Sorrow and Joy for Bath Choral Society, sponsored by Making Music and spnm, 1999.
He has been commissioned by various vocal and instrumental groups and performers of his works include Paul Silverthorne, Lesley Hatfield, Sarah Stowe, Jeremy Huw Williams, Roger Heaton, Stephen Gutman and Richard Benjafield. Jubilee Prayer was commissioned for the National Millennium Service for Wales and broadcast on TV and radio in 2000. Current projects include a setting of poetry by the Archbishop of Canterbury performed by the Lambeth Singers at Lambeth Palace, and a commission for the sound sculptures of Derek Shiel for spring 2009. He also performs, writes and arranges for various pop/rock groups, including the GlaggaGlaggas, Hicks Milligan-Prophecy and the Lost and Found Helium Choir.
Loré Lixenberg’s rich experience of music theatre includes performing the lead role in Bent Sørensen’s opera Under Himlen at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen as well as performing in many projects with Théâtre de Complicité. She has performed throughout Europe at numerous festivals including Wien Modern, Oslo’s Ultima and the festivals in Salzburg, Lucerne, Edinburgh, Witten, Donaueschingen and Aldeburgh.
Loré has performed as soloist with many distinguished orchestras and ensembles including BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, BCMG, Northern Sinfonia and Apartment House. She has featured in many television programmes, including the Channel 4 documentary ‘What made Mozart tick’ and most recently in ‘Kombat Opera Presents…’, a set of six television comedy operas commissioned from Richard Thomas by BBC2. Loré sang the main female operatic role in Richard Thomas’ award-winning Jerry Springer – The Opera at the Edinburgh Festival, the National Theatre and in London’s West End, as well as on the subsequently released CD.