20:00, Mon 9th March 2020 - Tue 10th March 2020 at Trinity College Chapel
Lent Week 8
Cambridge University Opera Society is delighted to present a night of newly-composed student opera.
The Wings of the Dove
The Wings of the Dove is one of the three late novels that mark the pinnacle of Henry James’ genius. This adaptation radically alters and compresses the plot to place an unflinching focus on the central characters, with a sense of pace and urgency befitting the tragic story. A wealthy American heiress, Milly Theale, arrives in Europe with a desire to experience life to the fullest, as she is terminally ill. In London, she seeks out an acquaintance from the US, Merton Densher. His girlfriend, Kate Croy, persuades him to feign interest in Milly in order to gain her inheritance, but he cannot keep up the deception, and after her death baulks at accepting her money, which comes between him and Kate. Given James’ inspiration from Psalm 55 in the original novel, musically this adaptation favours a religious atmosphere throughout, featuring fragments of Psalm 55 set in a pseudo-psalm chant style, apt for a premiere in Trinity College Chapel.
Jonah on the Hill
On a hill outside Nineveh, a great Mesopotamian metropolis, Jonah is enraged with God. He cannot understand why God has failed to destroy the city after is was prophesied that it had only forty days left to exist. Despite their fasting, the people still worship their idols in the temple of Ishtar, and Jonah believes they deserve to be punished. With the help of a tree and a humble worm God teaches Jonah about the value of His people, and the fruitless injustice of anger.
An Age's End
“Forgive me father for I have sinned.”
A quiet chapel. A penitent man kneels in isolation with his thoughts. They begin as a murmur and build into a tumultuous cacophony.
Out of this frenzy of chaos emerges Mary Magdalene, his hallucinatory redeemer. She offers a hope of heaven, freedom from guilt: a light in the darkness.
This light is carried by two dancers who embody the union, as they entwine, dance and purify. The penitent soul reconciled with God.
Will the man’s union with his faith lead him to Life or Death?
This is an Age’s End and perhaps, in the process, a new one shall form.
"It would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare…"
Judith takes its text from Virginia Woolf's essay A Room of One's One, in which she describes the life she imagines for a fictional sister of Shakespeare, named Judith. She is adventurous, imaginative, and "agog to see the world", with a quick "gift for the tune of words". There is a chasm, however, between her ambitious talent and the expectations of a harsh male world, and into this chasm she falls to die.
Woolf, along with Sylvia Plath two generations later, was herself a female genius lost to suicide, and subsequently narratives surrounding her life buried her creative and political voice under a sea of speculation about her mental health and madness. She delivered A Room of One's Own in lectures to students of our own university in 1928. Almost 100 years later, this opera allows Judith and Woolf to live, breathe, and speak again, and passes the baton onto you, to reconsider our female history and to liberate its future.
"But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her."