Sat 1 8.30pm & Sun 2 Aug 2009




The Song of Margery Kempe received its concert première at last year’s Tête-à-Tête festival, also with Loré Lixenberg in the title role. This year sees its realisation in Paul Burgess’s stage presentation; hopefully this will lead to a range of other presentations in different contexts and venues. Based on the Book of Margery Kemp – the autobiography of a real mystic from medieval Norfolk and the first autobiography in English – this one-woman opera offers the most radically stripped–down operatic experience possible, performed by a solo singer/actress without instrumental accompaniment.



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.


Scene 1: Mid afternoon, Margery’s parlour. While attempting to pray, Margery is visited by a horrifying vision of demons. Scene 2: Dawn, the next morning. She regains consciousness to the sound of a heavenly melody which assures her of heaven, and inspires her to weep for sin and dedicate her life to God.
Scene 3: Morning in Lynn courthouse, some years later. Her excessive piety has led her to be denounced as a Lollard and tried as a heretic.
Scene 4: Noon, a few months afterwards. Margery reflects on her life and what has happened.

Music and Words: Brian Inglis

Designs: Paul Burgess

Mezzo Soprano – Loré Lixenberg


Brian Inglis gained an MA from London’s City University with Simon Holt – winning the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers’ Prize – and a PhD with Rhian Samuel supported by the AHRC. His works have been shortlisted by spnm and supported by the RVW Trust and the Bliss Trust/PRS Foundation. In the 1990s Brian explored the life and writings of Hildegard of Bingen in chamber settings (performed at the Huddersfield Festival), choral music (performed by the BBC Singers), an opera (Hildegard von Bingen) and an oratorio (Visions of Sorrow and Joy, sponsored by Making Music and spnm). Other works include Jubilee Prayer, commissioned for the National Millennium Service for Wales and broadcast on TV and radio; and, most recently, a commission for Derek Shiel’s sound sculptures featuring soprano Sarah Leonard, performed at the Central School of Speech and Drama in April 2009.


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 and many projects with Théâtre de Complicité. She has also performed at numerous festivals throughout Europe and as soloist with many distinguished orchestras and ensembles. She has featured in television programmes including the Channel 4 documentary ‘What made Mozart tick’ and most recently ‘Kombat Opera Presents…’ on BBC2. Loré Lixenberg 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.


Paul Burgess trained at Motley. He has designed for productions at Watermill Newbury, Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, Glasgow Citizens’, Shakespeare’s Globe, Arcola, Hackney Empire, Southwark Playhouse and venues in New York and Vienna. As director-designer he led devising on A Place at The Table (CPT), Selfish (The Arches, Glasgow, and CPT), Out of Nothing (The Junction, Cambridge) and Rang (NCA, Pakistan), and collaborated on a programme of experimental work across the UK and in Siberia for Scale Project.