Opera of the Month

The Wreckers

We explore Melly Still's five star production of Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers. ​Subscribers can watch it now on Glyndebourne Encore.

Every month on Glyndebourne Encore – our new streaming service – we’ll be shining the spotlight on an opera, offering you deeper insights into extraordinary productions.

August’s Opera of the Month on Glyndebourne Encore is Melly Still’s five star production of The Wreckers – coming straight from Festival 2022.

Over on Glyndebourne Encore, subscribers can watch The Wreckers in full, and enjoy an exclusive introduction from opera specialist Alexandra Coghlan who talks to director Melly Still and mezzo-soprano Karis Tucker who plays the role of Thurza in the opera.

A brief introduction

The Wreckers is a piece many opera lovers know by name, but one that few have heard, let alone seen. Yet it is an important missing link in the evolution of English music (Britten’s Peter Grimes is particularly indebted to it) and also a genuinely compelling work in its own right. With its sweeping musical soundscapes, passionate love story, and unflinching portrait of fear, groupthink and mob mentality, this is an important work of 20th century opera that you won’t want to miss. 

Set in a remote corner of Cornwall, the opera tells the tale of a God-fearing community living a desperate, precarious existence. Their only hope is the ships that are wrecked on their rocks. But when they start to cause those shipwrecks deliberately, murdering the crew for profit, it tears the villagers apart, setting in motion a tragedy that kills two of their own.

Why not to miss this production

Glyndebourne’s production will be the first ever staging of the opera’s original French-language version, and the first professional, major-house staging in our lifetime. It will also be the first time the Festival has staged an opera by a woman – and not just any woman: a bisexual feminist, who was imprisoned for suffragette activism.

The production sees the welcome return of director Melly Still, whose inventive and visually striking productions of Rusalka and The Cunning Little Vixen were much loved by the Festival audience and critics alike.

A musical highlight

Get a feel for the music in this Organ Room session where Karis Tucker (Thurza) performs ‘Aimer c’est mourir’ from The Wreckers.

Cast and creative team

American mezzo-soprano Karis Tucker and Mexican tenor Rodrigo Porras Garulo will play the doomed lovers Thurza and Marc, leading an international cast that also includes Lauren Fagan as the jealous Avis and Philip Horst as stern pastor Pasko. Robin Ticciati conducts.

Subscribe to Glyndebourne Encore to watch The Wreckers now

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