Read an introduction to the collection of pieces, entitled 'Storms rock the air' below -
'Our contemporary offering this year takes scenes from 4 operas which had their premieres between 1995 and 2012. Just in themselves, they are evidence that the operatic art form is alive and kicking. But they are also evidence that contemporary opera, while finding innovative ways to tell stories through a widening and ever less prescriptive musical language, is firmly rooted in the traditions of the great operas of past centuries. "Jane Eyre" (2000) by one of our most established and well loved composers is a retelling of the classic Charlotte Brontë novel in a musical language which slips effortlessly from loud, dissonant expressions of fear to a love duet which references the writing of Puccini (or even musical theatre) while extending the bounds of traditional tonality to create heart-wrenching harmonic progressions. "Written on Skin" (2012) finds its inspiration in an even older source - a twelfth century troubadour legend. Yet Benjamin's writing is new and fresh, creating sounds and atmospheres never heard before and illuminating Crimp's chilling text with utter precision. "Powder her Face" (1995), the "oldest" of our four operas is also written by the youngest composer. Adès was just 24 when he wrote this sparklingly brilliant opera about the notorious Duchess of Argyll, whose exploits were the subject of feverish gossiping in the 1960s.
Where Benjamin's harmonic and rhythmic language shifts subtly and uneasily, revealing the huge well of feelings of the two principal characters, Adès has integrated into his score with the utmost detail the decadent harmonies and rubato of big band jazz. "Dead Man Walking" (2000) is the only American piece on our list which, while having received several productions around the world since its premiere, has still to be performed in the UK. It is based on real events of the 1980s, and while it’s musical language is the most traditional of our scenes, its drama is no less hard hitting.'
Jeremy Silver, Conductor and Assistant Head of Music