6 February 2017, 2pm, Milton Court Rehearsal Room 2

On 6 February 2017, the Guildhall School hosts ‘The New Librettist: The role of the writer in opera’ at Milton Court, in partnership with The Royal Opera, as part of its ResearchWorks programme. ResearchWorks is a dynamic programme of events centred around the School’s key research strands, bringing together staff, students and guests of international standing. The event in February brings together staff from the School’s MA in Opera Making & Writing programme with creative writers from around the literary scene to discuss the craft of the librettist and what it means to write the words of an opera in the 21st century.

The conference is introduced by Dr Cormac Newark, Head of Research at the School, Professor Julian Philips, Head of Composition at the School and John Fulljames, Associate Director of Opera at The Royal Opera. Award-winning playwright and librettist Martin Crimp will deliver a provocation on the craft of libretto writing in the 21st century. Crimp joins writer and composer Richard Thomas, composer and mezzo-soprano Laura Bowler, writer and director Hazel Gould and musician, lyricist and translator Amanda Holden to explore the librettist’s process in a discussion chaired by director and librettist Ruth Mariner. Following a break out session led by creative writing fellows Lila Palmer and Zoe Palmer, Dr Richard Baker, Professor in Department of Composition and Artist in Residence (Research) at the Guildhall School, Philip Venables, inaugural Doctoral Composer-in-Residence, director Bijan Shebani, Creative Writing Fellow Zoe Palmer and Writer in Residence Stephen Plaice discuss the relationship between librettist, composer and director and how to create a dynamic and explorative collaboration. The event also marks the launch of The Librettist Network, a new initiative seeking to promote and further the craft of libretto writing, raise the status of the librettist within the industry and create opportunities for the development of new work and new voices.

The MA in Opera Making and Writing is a full-time, one-year Masters programme delivered by the Guildhall School in association with the Royal Opera House. It allows composers and writers to focus on how new opera is created, developed and performed. The programme is led by Professor Julian Philips, Head of Composition at the Guildhall School, in close collaboration with Writer in Residence Stephen Plaice, the School’s award-winning Opera department, its Technical Theatre department and Associate Director of Opera for The Royal Opera, John Fulljames.

Following on from this conference, the Guildhall School presents the world premiere of The Tale of Januarie, composed by Julian Philips with libretto by Stephen Plaice, opening on 27 February for four performances. The piece, which is based on Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale, is the first opera to be written in Middle English and the first time an opera has been commissioned from within the School. The opera is conducted by the School’s Head of Opera Dominic Wheeler with director Martin Lloyd-Evans, designer Dick Bird, lighting designer Mark Jonathan and singers drawn from the School’s Opera Course. The singers have followed the opera’s development from page to stage, a process reflecting the School’s MA in Opera Making and Writing programme. Julian Philips and Stephen Plaice give a pre-performance talk on 6 March discussing the new opera as part of the School’s ResearchWorks programme.


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