The world premiere of James MacMillan’s new one-act opera, Clemency takes place at The Royal Opera House this month. An ROH2 co-production with Scottish Opera, and co-commissioned by The Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Britten Sinfonia and Boston Lyric Opera, it follows the critically-acclaimed premiere of MacMillan’s opera Parthenogenesis which was staged by ROH2 two years’ ago.
Clemency reunites the same creative team including librettist Michael Symmons Roberts and award-winning director Katie Mitchell and promises to deliver a contemporary take on the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah, who are visited by three angels bearing news that they will have a child.
Clark Rundell conducts this compact chamber opera of biblical and dramatic power, which embodies the spiritual identity and reflection for which MacMillan’s work is renowned. This work is the first solo opera commission by ROH2 and as co-producers and stars the renowned Scottish soprano Janis Kelly as Sarah and former Young Artists Grant Doyle as Abraham. The cast of five is made up of singers Adam Green, Andrew Tortise and Eamonn Mulhall. Britten Sinfonia will be the orchestra – this ensemble having enjoyed a long association with the composer and having premiered several of his works. The remainder of the creative team is made up of Alex Eales (set design), John Bright (costumes), Jon Clark (lighting) and Joseph Alford (movement). Scottish Opera will perform Clemency north of the border next year.
MacMillan’s musical voice is distinctive – influenced by his Scottish heritage, devout Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, all blended with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music. He won international recognition with the acclaimed BBC Proms’ premiere of The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie (1990) and his prolific output has since been performed by most of the world’s leading orchestras.
Clemency runs in the Linbury Studio Theatre 6-14 May 2010. www.roh.org.uk/clemency. Box office: 020 7304 4000.