- March 2020
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."
- November 2019
Cleopatra and her brother Tolomeo are joint rulers of Egypt, a vassal kingdom of the Roman Empire, but each one secretly wants to rule on their own. After being humiliated by Cesare, Tolomeo decides to devise a scheme to kill him. He plots to use the panic and confusion that ensues to overthrow Cesare's and Cleopatra’s armies and become the sole king of Egypt. To help him, he employs his general, Achilla. However, because of Sesto’s ambitions to avenge the death of his father Pompeo, slain by Tolomeo, and Achilla’s infinite love for Cornelia, Pompeo’s widow, things will not go according to plan for Cleopatra’s greedy brother...
Meanwhile, can the romance sparked between Cesare and Cleopatra overcome disguise, tempests and tyranny?
This exquisite opera, performed in Italian, brings together some of Cambridge's finest Baroque musicians, opera singers, actors and dancers for two nights of tragedy, revenge and romance.
- February 2019
- November 2018
Come and see these two delicious one-act comedies where a pair of young lovers tease and test their feelings for each other and a pair of rival sopranos battle it out to be the prima donna. These lively and engaging stories, performed in English and starring some of Cambridge University's finest undergraduate musicians, showcase the gorgeous music and sense of playfulness that characterised Mozart's music throughout his life: the first written when he was just 12 years old, the second in the last 5 years of his life.
Two operas. One night. Don't miss it.
- November 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- January 2018
Based on the Grimm fairytale of the same name, Humperdinck's opera transports us into the magical world of two children's imaginations. Sent away by their desperate mother to find food, they encounter a Sandman, a Dew Fairy and a child-catching witch in a song sparkled, dream woven sequence of adventure.
This semi-staged production will be brought to life by director Anna Moody with costume and set dreamt up by Ciaran Walsh. It will be performed in the English translation by Constance Bache with an outstanding cast and The Empyrean Ensemble conducted by Edward Reeve.
- October 2017
A story of lust, intrigue, and reconciliation set in Classical Thrace with warring dynasties providing the characters.
Handel's Radamisto draws on Tacitus' Annals to give us the story of Tiridate, a warlike king driven mad by love of the princess Zenobia, Tiridate's brave and patient wife Polissena, and the dashing prince Radamisto, and brings together some of the composer's greatest evocations of rage and pathos. The opera will be performed in elaborate costumes drawing on baroque costume and steampunk fashion, with a stylised, symbolic language of movement.
- February 2016
An evening of three new student operas based on short stories in Trinity and Jesus College Chapels - Bertie Baigent's 'The Nightingale and the Rose' (adapted from Oscar Wilde), Stephen Bick's 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find' (adapted from Flannery O'Connor) and Owain Park's 'The Snow Child' (adapted from Angela Carter).
- January 2016
Trinity College Music Society presents a semi-staged production of Mozart's Idomeneo, directed by Judith Lebiez and conducted by Naomi Woo. This dramatic opera recounts an Ancient Greek tale of love and revenge, gods and monsters, glory and death.
- October 2015
Following the outstanding success of Disney in Trinity: Be Our Guest, Cambridge University Pops Orchestra returns to Trinity Chapel to present a concert of musical theatre favourites, including music from The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Wicked, Book of Mormon, and an exclusive performance of a song from a newly-opened West End musical.
Featuring a hand-picked symphony orchestra, choir, and soloists, this concert brings together the best musicians in Cambridge for another spectacular performance.
- June 2015
In Cambridge May Week, 1914, the thunder of imminent war on the continent is far too distant for undergraduates Ferrando and Guglielmo to pay much attention. Instead, they are busy enjoying the golden summer – and being blissfully in love with their fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, who live just outside the university town, waited on by the crafty Despina. Equally crafty is the young students' friend Don Alfonso, a sly old fellow who seeks entertainment of his own by enticing Ferrando and Guglielmo into a bet that he can disprove the fidelity of their sweethearts.
In what follows over the course of one long summer's day, all four lovers are forced to consider the surety of their values and nature of their relationships, finally seeing their own naiveté brought into sharp relief alongside the lengthening shadows.
Arguably the funniest of Mozart and Da Ponte's famous collaborations tells a hilarious yet poignant story of youth, age, innocence, experience, and – above all – the high price of naiveté when mixed with passion and desire. CUOS is excited to present a brilliant student cast and orchestra in this production staged in Trinity Chapel.
- May 2015
CUPO returns for the most highly anticipated musical event of the Cambridge year. Following the success of Disney in Trinity: The Circle of Life and Disney in Trinity 2: The Bells of Notre Dame, we are certain that this year will see yet another feast of classic film music entertainment.
Come and join us, as we celebrate some of the most iconic scores from Disney films past and present - all performed by some of the top singers and players in Cambridge.
Tickets have now SOLD OUT for this event.
- June 2014
The Dryden Society's May Week Show will be Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. The unique and enchanting language of Thomas comes to the fore in this faithful production set amidst the elegance of Trinity College Chapel. Milk wood is a play for voices exploring the sound and song at the heart of the quant Welsh village of Llarregyb.
Any queries, please contact sc829 (Shounok)
- February 2014
"Go your way in peace, mother. The dead shall rise again, And in that blessed day, We shall meet in heav'n"
The Madwoman is desperately looking for her child and has reached the Curlew River. Crossing the river amongst pilgrims on their way to a shrine, travellers and the ferryman, the Madwoman is brought to realise the fate of her child.
Benjamin Britten's church parable 'Curlew River' will be performed this Lent Term in Trinity Chapel, a venue fitting for Britten's beautiful music. An adaptation of a Japanese noh play, this production will stage the opera according to the principles of noh theatre - facial actions, movements and gestures controlled by a formal rigour to give a great visual artistry. Only the Madwoman is free from this style of theatre and the so a clash between Eastern and Western styles, so apparent in the music, will be dramatised.
- January 2014
A performance project to take place in Trinity Chapel on 25th January consisting of songs by Jewish composers of the twentieth century whose reputations were effaced by the Nazis. The evening will culminate in a semi-staged performance with piano of Act II of Schreker's opera Die Gezeichneten (a German pun meaning The Branded Ones, or The Artist's Subject).
- June 2013
Sam and Dinah, like all of their cheery suburban neighbours, appear to be happily married and lead normal lives. Follow Sam and Dinah as they live through a normal day, uncovering as we go the dark heart of Fifties America.
Accompanied by a jazzy orchestral score and a scat trio of singers, we see the true state of the couple's life. Amidst the daily lunches and appointments are scattered lies, selfishness, sexism, and a sad recognition that life is not like an island paradise movie. Their son, Junior, seems to be unimportant, if not a mere figment of the social imagination. As their neighbours pretend that suburban life is perfect, we begin to wonder how many more marriages in fifties suburbia undergo the same process of lies and the pretence at normality. Sam and Dinah's jazzy, gossipy neighbours even have their eye on the audience.
Set in an era of consumerism, anti-communism and the Beat generation, this opera shows us the hurdles which married life must overcome, all the while to a West Side Story-esque score. It challenges our social perceptions while offering something for everyone: whether you like Maria Callas or Michael Buble, this show will never disappoint.
- November 2008
This is one of Puccini's most beautiful and intimate operas. Written as the middle act of his Il Trittico, Suor Angelica was Puccini's personal favourite of the three. Set in a convent in the latter part of the 17th Century, it tells the story of Sister Angelica who was sent from her family in disgrace some years earlier. The opera begins with the day-to-day life of the nuns, interrupted by the arrival of The Princess, Sister Angelica's Aunt. The Princess has come to inform Sister Angelica that her sister is to be married and that she must renounce her claim to the family inheritance. Sister Anglica asks after her son, only to be told he is dead. Overcome with grief, Sister Angelica kills herself; the opera ends with a vision of her son appearing before her surrounded by light. The cast of 14 sopranos and altos is made up from the very best young singers from the Cambridge Chapel Choirs and London Conservatories, and the production team is highly experienced.