Originally a work-in–progress developed as part of Opera North Projects’ Resonance strand of new music-theatre, The Weather Man has been brought to fruition in a co-commission by Opera North and Shrewsbury’s Shift Time Festival. Much of the libretto was constructed out of historical materials, and by setting a prose narration to music alongside and overlapping with a traditional sung operatic text, Paul Clark and John Binias have rediscovered the musical qualities of the spoken voice.
The friendship between Captain Robert FitzRoy and Charles Darwin blossomed during five years together on the Beagle. But as Darwin developed his theory of natural selection, FitzRoy became a creationist and the two were forever divided. This production of Paul Clark and John Binias’s fascinating chamber work for string quartet, baritone and spoken voice explores
what happened when the two friends found themselves on opposite sides of the 19th-century’s greatest intellectual fault line.
Music: Paul Clark
Words: John Binias
Designer: Richard Aylwin
Conductor: Dominic Wheeler
FitzRoy: Robert Poulton
Narrator: Sarah Belcher
Paul Clark: Composer
Co-artistic director of Clod Ensemble and has composed for all their productions to date, including Under Glass (Sadler’s Wells/tour); Red Ladies (ICA/tour); Silver Swan (ROH2/V&A/McEwan Hall, Edinburgh). He has written four chamber operas including Liebeslied/my suicides (ICA/Genesis Foundation) and collaborated with Katie Mitchell on experimental theatre pieces Waves (National Theatre and tour) and Wunschkonzert (Schauspiel Köln/Berlin Schaubuhne). For Radio he composed new chamber orchestra scores for Beckett’s plays Words and Music and Cascando. He has composed many concert works, notably three Guitar Trios. His many scores for theatre range from the fringe to the National Theatre and across Europe, the USA and Asia. He has written for film and television, for directors including Arnaud Desplechin, Emily Young and Mark Aerial Waller, and collaborated with a huge range of musicians from Dangermouse to Mark E Smith. Awards include an Arts Foundation fellowship in 1999.
John Binias: Writer and Director
A writer who’s work with music includes Carbon 12, an oratorio about coal in south Wales (composer Errollyn Wallen), premiered by Welsh National Opera at the Wales Millennium Centre in 2008, and revived in June 2009 in a medium-scale touring version; The Calling of Maisy Day, an opera set in a call-centre (composer Brian Irvine) was premiered by WNO Youth Opera in 2008; Unsupported Transit, a chamber opera about the stop-motion photographer Edward Muybridge (composer Paul Clark; Opera Genesis & Opera North Projects) was shown in Leeds in October 2007. Recent television work includes Mountains for BBC1. His novels are Theory of Flesh (2000, Macmillan) and Loco (2002, Macmillan). He is currently working on a new novel.
Opera North Projects – Creates a dialogue between classical and contemporary arts through a year-round programme of performance, commissions, literary events and artistic development, reclaiming opera as the original multi-media experience. Projects leads the programming of Opera North’s new performance space, the Howard Assembly Room, with an eclectic programme of special events, many of which are not otherwise seen outside London. The programme includes a series of Opera North commissions, a wide ranging musical programme embracing classical, jazz, folk, world, electronica and music theatre; theatre; a growing body of work for young people; literary events and film screenings. The work of the Projects also includes small-scale touring shows, visual arts commissions and work in the cities to which Opera North regularly tours. This Co-commissioned by Opera North/Shrewsbury Shift Time Festival work crosses conventional art form boundaries and often has an emphasis on collaboration, with recent partners including
Genesis at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Leeds Art Gallery, the Fuse Leeds new music festival