This year I have reunited with composer Scott Stroman, with whom I have previously written ‘Fables’ and ‘Fever Pitch: The Opera’ to work on a jazz-opera adaptation of Michael Palin’s stage play ‘The Weekend’, for Highbury Opera Theatre. It was the original intention to premier the show at the Union Chapel, Highbury, in September 2020. The venue was booked, the principals were cast, the libretto approved, the score well under way, and then Covid put paid to the production, as to so much else in this annus horribilis.
Nothing daunted, Scott has pressed ahead with finishing the music. The chorus has brilliantly persevered with remote rehearsals, learning their parts independently at home and then meeting on Zoom for run throughs with Scott and HOT MD Sarah Wilkinson. And the principals have been studying their roles for several weeks now, too, as it has been decided to go ahead and do a full (socially-distanced) sound recording of the piece just before Christmas, up at the Guildhall music school in the Barbican.
The principal cast includes Tenor Adrian Thompson and Mezzo Kathy Taylor-Jones as Stephen and Ginny Febble, and Mezzo Joanna Harries and Baritone Rob Gildon and as their daughter Diana and her husband Alan, so we have singers of the highest calibre on board for this recording. It will be fantastic to hear them bring the opera to life. It feels like we’re making a small contribution to keeping the cultural flame alive this year, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.