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Iain Bell

Publisher: Chester Music

In Parenthesis (2016)
Commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust With 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Text Writer
E. Jenkins and D. Antrobus, after David Jones
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Opera
Year Composed
2016
Duration
1 Hour 50 Minutes
Chorus
SATBarB
Language
English
Soloist
Soprano
Solo Instrument(s)
High Tenor; 4 Tenors; High Baritone; 2 Baritones; 2 Basses
Availability
Unavailable Explain this...
Programme Note
Iain Bell In Parenthesis (2016)
SYNOPSIS

The action homes in on John Ball, a young Private in the Royal Welch Fusiliers; a clumsy, hapless soldier also possessed of moments of hallucinatory vision in which Celtic and mythical imagery consumes him. As his platoon marches toward the front line, his visions intensify until they take over the entire action of the opera at Mametz Wood, where he sees the Queen of the Woods and her Dryads bring death and destruction in their wake. By the end he is the sole survivor, Mametz is destroyed. In the spirit of the eternal cycle of destruction and regeneration, by dawn Ball sees the woodland beautifully regenerate and the fallen are garlanded with flowers by the Dryads.

Commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust With 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

First performance 13 May 2016 at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, by the Welsh National Opera, conducted by Carlo Rizzi.

Credits

Music: Iain Bell
Libretto: E. Jenkins and D. Antrobus, after David Jones
Director: David Pountney
Designer: Robert Innes Hopkins

Cast of Characters

Private John Ball - high tenor
Bard of Germania / Alice the Barmaid / The Queen of the Woods - soprano
Bard of Britannia / HQ Officer - baritone
Lieutenant Jenkins - baritone
Lance Corporal Lewis - high baritone
Sergeant Snell - tenor
Dai Great Coat - bass
The Marne Sergeant - tenor
Private Watcyn - tenor
Private Wastebottom - bass
German Soldier / Runner - tenor

Female Chorus of Remembrance / Chorus of Dryads

Male Platoon Chorus

Performances
Reviews
Bell writes well for voices, giving lovely lyrical lines to Ball-the honey-voiced tenor Andrew Bidlack...The fervently sung all-female Chorus of Remembrance added a distinctive colour, while Alexandra Deshorties blossomed as Queen of the Woods- atoning for her Midsummer Night's Dream get-up...Carlo Rizzi conducted with aplomb...Kudos too, to Welsh National Opera, for a second imaginative premiere...
Rebecca Franks, The Times ,16/05/2016
WNO's latest premiere- composer Iain Bell's setting of the epic poem In Parenthesis by David Jones, is a brave, emphatic statement of intent...the strong cast bespeaks total commitment...As Dai, Donald Maxwell's bravado boasting- in duet with Graham Clark's Marne Sergeant- conjures vivid images...Iain Bell's Instinct for words and vocal line is apparent, evocative when moving into John Ball's more hallucinatory state...Two things emerge: the extraordinary vision that is Jones's legacy in art and literature; and the talent of tenor Andrew Bidlack who, as Private Ball, sings heroically.
Rian Evans , The Guardian ,16/05/2016
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