A FEAST IN THE TIME OF PLAGUE

Grange Park Opera, Surrey

 12, 13 September 2020

Composer: Alex Wolff

Libretto: David Pountney

Performers

Elena – Claire Booth

Frederic, her butler – Peter Hoare

Joyce, the cook – Anne-Marie Owens

Lidochka, her daughter – Soraya Mafi

Claire, the clairvoyant -Susan Bullock

Antoine, a playboy – Simon Keenlyside

McGuire, grandmother – Janis Kelly

Pius, an informer – Jeff Lloyd Roberts

Karl, a radical bohemian – Will Dazeley

Death / Policeman / Judas – Clive Bayley

Adina, newly wed to Pat -Sarah Minns

Pat, newly-wed to Adina – Harry Thatcher

Britain’s first new opera commission since lockdown

With a libretto by opera-giant Sir David Pountney and music by Alex WoolfA Feast in the Time of Plague is the only new opera to have been commissioned during lockdown.

Pountney completed the libretto in early June. Award-winning 25-year-old British composer Alex Woolf (described by Gramophone magazine as “a major presence in starry company”) completed his score in 6 weeks.

It will be performed and filmed on the stage of the Theatre in the Woods on 12 / 13 September 2020 and will be available to watch free online afterwards. The online stream will be made available in two parts –  part 1 from 6pm on Wednesday 07 October 2020 and part 2 on a date to be confirmed.

The Story

Pountney explains how his libretto developed whilst in lockdown in Wales: “I responded to Pushkin’s little fragment by creating 12 – because of the Last Supper – very varied characters ­who arrive voluntarily and most of whom depart involuntarily – i.e. they die. In between they capture the defiance and solidarity that we have all experienced during these strange times. The virus exposes truths about all of us in surprising ways. A Feast in the Time of Plague captures this – as well as the essential lesson that we must carry on laughing.

SOUNDBITES

The Times, Neil Fisher, 14.09.20  (fee payable)

3 stars

“…She commands the cook (Anne-Marie Owens) to prepare a final feast for a “dirty dozen” who include….revving on stage in his motorbike, a “playboy” sung by Simon Keenlyside (bike:model’s own)…”

Daily Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, 15.09.20   (free registration required)

4 stars

“…A powerhouse cast of 12 – combining notable newcomers such as Harry Thatcher and Sarah Minns with seasoned pros such as Simon Keenlyside and Susan Bullock – all give turbocharged performances…..”

The Stage, George Hall, 15.09.20     (free registration required)

3 stars

“….Simon Keenlyside’s biker playboy Antoine disappears disappointingly early in proceedings….”

Guardian/Observer, Fiona Maddocks, 19.09.20/20.09.20   (free registration required)

“… “I went where it was forbidden and lay down with the damned and drank with the gasping and smoked with the terminal and survived,” sings Antoine, the biker playboy, biked (on his own vehicle) and played by Simon Keenlyside, in magnificent voice and done away with far too soon….”

Sunday Times, Hugh Canning, 20.09.20     (fee payable)

“…GPO pulled out the stops, engaging a top-flight cast, including Simon Keenlyside as the “playboy” Antoine…..all the singers were excellent….”

Daily Mail, David Mellor, 26.09.20

“….an entertainment full of good things, like the vampish Elena (Claire Booth) dragging the playboy Antoine (Keenlyside) off stage in a flurry of passion.

She returns but he doesn’t. He died happy, she assures the audience, and I believe her….”