Ian Wilson (b.1964) - Humpty Dumpty (world premiere)
Recorded live on: 18th March 2010
Duration: 27 minutes
Music by Ian Wilson (b.1964)
Libretto by Brian Leyden
Humpty Dumpty world premiere
Humpty Dumpty is a piece of music theatre for two singers, clarinet and percussion, to a libretto by the Irish writer Brian Leyden. It began with the question 'How could the story of Humpty Dumpty and his fall be re-interpreted?' and ended up with the setting of an annual singing competition in which tenor Don Dumpty, who has been the champion for years, is finally undone by his own hubris and the skill of a young challenger. The competition puts each singer through their paces by demanding that they sing in different styles, battling it out with skill and stamina. The two musicians provide a colourful harmonic support as well as occasionally doubling as a chorus.
Part morality play, Humpty Dumpty is also part investigation of various styles of singing, from quasi-Baroque to modern. The work is generally light in tone, meant to be a divertissement, and refers back to such works as Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat, at least in its sense of portability.
Ian Wilson, who was born in Belfast, has written over 80 pieces including two chamber operas, concertos for organ, cello, alto saxophone, violin (three), marimba and piano, orchestral pieces, eight string quartets and many other chamber, vocal and multi-media works. His music has been performed and broadcast on six continents by a range of major artists and organisations and at leading international festivals.
Jane Harrington soprano
After training as an actress, Jane Harrington graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. Operatic engagements have included Morgana/Alcina (OTC), Cupid/Orpheus in the Underworld (Opera Holland Park), Varvara/Katya Kabanova (ETO) Little Moon/A Night at the Chinese Opera (Scottish Opera), Virtue andAmore/L'Incoronazione di Poppea (ENO), Soprano /'Three Water Plays' by Detlev Glanert (Almeida Opera), Belinda/Dido and Aneas (ETO), Savitri (cover)/Savitri and Baroness (cover)/Der Wildschütz (Buxton Festival). Recent concert engagements include soprano soloist for Raymond Gubbay's Viennese gala at the Barbican with LPO, and future highlights include Morgana/ Alcina (OTC) at the Buxton Festival, Lucy/The Beggar's Opera (Opera Project) and cover Susanna The Marriage of Figaro (Scottish Opera).
Ashley Catling tenor
Ashley Catling studied at the GSMD and the National Opera Studio. Performances include Ernesto/Don Pasquale (New Zealand Opera)' Don Ottavio/Don Giovanni (Opera Zuid)' Nanki-Poo/The Mikado (Nationale Reisopera)' Fenton/Falstaff, Apollo/Orfeo' Kudryas/Katya Kabanova' Giannetto/La Gazza Ladra and Tamino/The Little Magic Flute (Opera North)' Ferrando/Così fan tutte and Nadir Der Stein der Weisen (pastiche opera) (Garsington)' Nadir/Les Pêcheurs de Perles (Dorset Opera)' 1st Armed Man/Die Zauberflöte (Glyndebourne on Tour)' Tamino (Castleward)' Normanno/Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Holland Park)' David Horne's Friend of the People (Scottish Opera)' Gawain/Gawain and the Green Knight (Music Theatre Wales).
Elaine Tyler-Hall director
Elaine Tyler-Hall works full-time with ENO and has directed the revivals of The Cunning Little Vixen, Orpheus and Eurydice, The Fairy Queen , Rigoletto and Tosca in London and also travelled with Orpheus and Eurydice to New York City Opera, The Cunning Little Vixen to La Fenice, La Scala, Teatro de la Maestranza and Israeli Opera, and Semele to Zurich. Her freelance work has included directing and choreographing The Soldier's Tale, Vesalii Icones and The Lighthouse for Psappha, Eugene Onegin and La traviata for Riverside Opera, Orpheus and Eurydice for Blackheath Halls, and choreographing The Greek Passion (ROH) and Benvenuto Cellini (Zurich). She choreographed and assisted on the world premiere of Maxwell Davies's Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, which she restaged for the Kammeroper Vienna where she has also directed La Finta Giardiniera.
Aaron Marsden designer
Aaron Marsden studied theatre design in his native Australia. Early in his career he designed the set for the film Moulin Rouge directed by Baz Luhrmann. Recent British credits include The Lighthouse (Psappha at Buxton Festival and on tour); La Traviata (Riverside Opera); Opera Scenes (Birkbeck College); Orpheus and Eurydice and La Bohème (Blackheath Halls); Eugene Onegin (Riverside Opera); Truckstop (Edinburgh Fringe and UK tour); The Beaver Coat (Finborough Theatre); Steam (The White Bear; Courtyard Theatre); Black & White Sextet and I'm An Asylum Seeker...Get Me Into Here (Rosemary Branch). Future plans include Brassed Off in Lichfield.
Marc Rosette lighting designer
Marc Rosette graduated from Croydon College's Theatre Design course in 1996, specialising in lighting design. Since then his extensive career has taken him across Europe and the UK. In the past 10 years he has mainly worked in opera for both the Royal Opera and English National Opera, collaborating with leading directors and designers from around the world. Design credits include Orpheus, La Bohème (Blackheath Halls), The Lighthouse (Psappha in Buxton and on tour), Double Tongue (Border Crossings, UK and European tour), Handel in London, The Magic Flute (ENO Bayliss), Time Of My Life, Just Between Ourselves, Waiting for Micky (Theatre Colwyn).
Specialising in the performance of music by living composers and that of the 20th and 21st centuries, Psappha was formed in 1991 by its Artistic Director Tim Williams. The ensemble has an extensive and exceptionally varied repertoire of hundreds of works and a reputation for technical assurance and interpretive flair. It won the Manchester Evening News Award for Opera in 2000 and has been shortlisted for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award on two occasions in recent years.
Psappha has commissioned and premiered many works by a wide range of composers including the award-winning music-theatre work, Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, by its Patron Peter Maxwell Davies, released on the ensembles own label.
Psappha has appeared throughout the UK, at most of the country's major music festivals, including the BBC Proms, in special Henze and Maxwell Davies portrait series in London's South Bank, and in a residency at the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney in 2009.
It has made highly successful tours to North and South America, Australia, Belgium, France, Holland, Ireland, Jersey, Portugal and Spain. In addition to six recordings on various labels, it launched its own CD label in 2004 with Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot.
Psappha is developing its online presence with a number of concerts available to view as webcasts and also the development of its 'Composition Lab' for 12 - 18 year olds. Education projects for people of all ages represent an important part of Psappha's schedule both in the UK and abroad. It was awarded the Swatch City Life Award for Best Concert Series and Education Work and is currently The University of Manchester's Contemporary Ensemble in Association.
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