The Fairy Queen
Performances: Tutu’s, King’s College London, London (2015)
Collaborators: James Rhoads, Bethany James, King's College Opera
This was my first solo opera directing. To say it was influenced by observing Peter Sellars on The Indian Queen would be an understatement. It was a shameless copy, filtered through my then-ignorance of Shakespeare and my love of Terry Pratchett.
James Rhodes (conductor) was already making an original-practice scoring. At my insistence, he agreed to cut and interpolate material so that The Fairy Queen’s original series of masques became a single story - the tale of elves running a generic London corporation, controlling the lives of their human employees.
As I write this, I realise that this is basically the same idea as I used for The Left Fang, but with elves instead of vampires.
Anyway, the elves’ decadent Christmas party ends in disaster and a schism among the elves. It worked really well visually, since the venue had a fantastic view over the City of London.
Conceptually, I was really happy with this one - the original piece has a lot of unchallenged abuse of power. It opens with the elves lynching a poet, and continues to a ‘comic’ scene of one man forcing himself on a woman repeating ‘no’. Using these two tentpoles as starting points, I think I made something that explored power, its effect on those who wield it, and on those who it’s used against.
“Why should men quarrel?”