Works by six female composers coming in 2022

Works by six female composers, comprising two new operas and a neglected masterpiece, will be staged at Glyndebourne in 2022.

Works by six female composers, comprising two new operas and a neglected masterpiece, will be staged at Glyndebourne in 2022.

Among them is an opera by the pioneering feminist composer Ethel Smyth that will open Festival 2022.

The Wreckers

The Wreckers, a powerful, cinematic psychodrama set on the Cornish coast, was the most successful of Smyth’s operas in her lifetime and is an influential work that many people know by name but few have actually seen. Glyndebourne’s production is the first production by a major opera house since 1939 and the first-ever staging of the original French-language version.

Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director of Glyndebourne, said: ‘Ethel Smyth was a serious and important composer, championed by the likes of Thomas Beecham and Bruno Walter. Our new staging of The Wreckers will, in one sense, be a world premiere, because it’s the first time the opera will be performed in French, as she originally conceived it. There’s been lots of sleuth-work involved in putting the original score and text back together again and we’re delighted to be giving this neglected masterpiece its first major staging in over eighty years.’

Find out more about Festival 2022.

Image: Ethel Smyth. George Grantham Bain Collection; Restored by Adam Cuerden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

New operas

2022 will be bookended by two brand new operas, both by female composers.

In February 2022 Glyndebourne will present the world premiere of Pay the Piper, a new youth opera jointly composed by the four participants of Balancing the Score, a development programme exclusively for female composers. 

Anna Appleby, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson have collaborated with writer Hazel Gould to create a new work based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The opera will be directed by Sinéad O’ Neill, with the young American-British conductor Johann Stuckenbruck conducting the Psappha ensemble, specialists in the performance of work by living composers.

Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Anna Appleby, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson. Photos: James Bellorini

The production, delayed by the pandemic, will be the first Glyndebourne show to take place in the theatre’s stalls rather than on the stage. This was necessitated by essential work to replace and automate Glyndebourne’s 27-year-old backstage systems, but has been embraced for its creative opportunities. 

Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director of Glyndebourne, said: ‘You’ll get a completely different view on the theatre, a completely new acoustic. It’s an experience that may not ever happen again, but an opportunity to play in that wonderful space and just see what happens. It’s also fantastic to start the year with a youth opera that will get young people singing again at a time when opportunities for this are increasingly under threat.’

Following in the autumn of 2022 is a new work by composer Samantha Fernando and writer Melanie Wilson examining themes of loneliness that will include real-life testimonies drawn from a diverse range of communities.

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