All posts by Site Admin

Updated: Erismena Appeal

The Bodleian Library has succeeded in its campaign to save Erismena, the earliest surviving score of an opera in the English language.

During recent research, Dr Harry Johnstone, retired Reader in the Music Faculty and Emeritus Fellow of St Anne’s, discovered that Erismena was sold in 1797 at the auction of the library of William and Philip Hayes, who had been successive Heather Professors of Music at the University of Oxford. The acquisition makes it possible for the music manuscript to return home to Oxford.

Written by Pietro Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676), the leading Italian opera composer of the mid-17th century, Erismena dates from the 1670s, 30 years before any other Italian operas were known to have been performed in Britain. The manuscript now enriches the Bodleian Library’s outstanding music collection and is an important addition to the Library’s existing holdings of English 17th- and 18th-century opera and theatre music.

The score has been part of a private collection and has been studied by only a small number of scholars in the past 50 years. It is one of the most significant British 17th-century music manuscripts to have appeared in recent decades.

A public appeal to raise £85,000 needed to acquire this unique manuscript was launched last November. The acquisition has been made possible thanks to the generous donations offered by the members of the general public and grants given by the V & A Purchase Grant Fund, the Friends of the Bodleian, the Friends of the National Libraries, New Chamber Opera and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Richard Ovenden, Keeper of Special Collections and Associate Director, Bodleian Library, said: ‘The Bodleian Library thanks all the members of the general public and the organizations whose donations made it possible for Erismena to be saved for the nation. The acquisition makes it possible for us to conserve this unique and significant manuscript for the benefit of generations to come.’

Winter Recital Series

New College Ante-chapel
1.15pm
£2/£1 concessions

January

23rd – Lauren Bensted – jazz alto
30th – Aileen Thomson – soprano

February

6th – Robyn Allegra Parton – soprano & Charlotte Denham – mezzo
13th – Jonathan Darbourne – counter-tenor
20th – Tom Bennett – bass
27th – Jon Stainsby – baritone

March

6th – Dom Burnham – counter-tenor
13th – Max Jones – baritone

Lunchtime Vocal Recitals

1.15pm

New College Ante-chapel

£2/£1 concessions – All tickets on the door

October

17 Alexander Pullinger – counter-tenor
24 Anna Sideris – soprano
31 Nicholas Pritchard – tenor

November

7 Bronwen Mills – soprano
14 Roya Zia – soprano
21 Richard Poyser – counter-tenor
28 Robyn Parton – soprano

December

5 Henry Jones – counter-tenor

Elephant

14th, 15th November 2008
8:30pm, New College Ante-Chapel
£10/£5 Concessions
Bookings: Oxford Playhouse 01865 305305

Don’t go down the Elephant after midnight
An opera about death and taxis.

Written by Andrew Gant

Cast: Patricia Rozario (soprano)

Patricia Rozario - Credit: Alexandra
Patricia Rozario - Credit: Alexandra

New Chamber Opera
Conductor: John Traill
Director: Michael Burden

Genesis – In 2002 Patricia Rozario sang the soprano solo in “The Vision of Piers plowman”, Andrew’s oratorio, with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Shortly afterwards she was asked by Tom Morris, now at the National Theatre, to nominate a composer to collaborate on a one-woamn show. Six years later the meter’s on, and cab is ready to depart

Synopsis –

Pat is a taxi driver with an obsession: Mozart. The Marriage of Figaro is her constant companion in the cab, and Susanna and the rest of the characters are her friends and familiars. She sings along, shouts at them, joins in with their music, adds her own take on it. She cajoles them, bullies them, argues with them. Their dramas become more and more vivid in her mind, more real than the reality of road-rage on the Embankment. Occasionally she’ll pick up a fare, but only if they like Mozart, and only if their destination fits with the shape of her day, her journey, her destination. The “real” world of bus-lanes and BMWs becomes increasingly blurred with the Mozartian world in her head. This is an opera about how we “use” music. What is it for? Why do we need it to fill the silence? What is left when the music stops? As Pat says, “let’s have a little night-music, Susanna, because if we take away the music, all that’s left is the night.” It’s a drama about journeys, maps, the patterns we make to fill up the blank pages, and about what is left to show we’ve been here at all when the journey ends.

An eclectic sound-world recreates the strange, surreal mixture in Pat’s head. Mozart plays on the stereo. The “real” world is heard in the form of new music, sometimes super-imposed on the recorded Mozart, sometimes free-standing. The sonic paraphernalia of modern life plays a part in this sound-world too: car-horns, ring-tones, sat-navs, police-cars. This is a portrait in sound of an increasingly disturbing drive through contemporary London, with the inevitable result at the lights in St. Martin’s Lane.

Come drive with me. Share my journey. But be careful- Pat might know better than you where you will end up….

The Fall of the House of Usher

30, 31 January, 1 February 2008
8.30pm
New College Ante-chapel

The story of Philip Glass’s opera The Fall of the House of Usher is based on the Poe ghost story of the same name by Arthur Yorinks. It was commissioned by the American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA and the Kentucky Opera and premiered in 1988. As with much Gothic fiction, the extent to which the audience should believe what they’re watching and the extent to which the story is in their own immaginations is left vague. The central character, Rodderick has hyperesthesia (extreme hypersensitivity to light, sounds, smells, and tastes); the plot turns on Rodderick’s death from shock at the reappearance of his ‘dead’ (and perhaps murdered) sister. As one commentator has remarked: ‘Poe hints at much, but states hardly anything at all’.

Conductor: Christopher Borrett; Director: Michael Burden

Roderick: Tom Raskin; William: Steffan Jones; Madelaine: Robyn Parton; Servant: Maxim Jones; Physician: Stefan Hargreaves

Tickets: £10 (£5) from Oxford Playhouse
+44 1865 305305
or on the door

Thomas ARNE: ARTAXERXES

2 (Preview), 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 July 2008.

Thomas Arne’s opera Artaxerxes was the surprise hit of 1762. ‘Surprise’, because the English did not like recitative, and the last thing that should have appealed to them was an opera in English based on an Italian libretto by Metastasio. The London public’s initial reception was cool; but after the first season, it was revived, and went on being performed well into the 19th century. It held its popularity was partly because the role of Mandane became – in the hands of two or three great sopranos, such as Elizabeth Billington and Gerturd Mara – a testing ground for new sopranos some of whom made their debut in the role. The piece contains Italian style arias with the greast number of ‘divisions and difficulties which had ever been heard at the opera’. Three of these spectacular display pieces were included in the Proms in 2004.

For tickets for the Preview please download a form here.

For tickets for the 8th of July please download a form here.

Please contact the following numbers for tickets as below:

Fridays 4 and 11 July
Paula Wright
New College Development Office
(01865) 289 096

Saturday 5 July
Beth Hughes
University Alumni Office
(01865) 611 622

Sunday 6 July
Doreen Parker
National Arts Collection Fund
(01491) 641 259

Wednesday 9 July
Sarah Taylor
Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden
(01844) 214 468

Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 July
Elaine Ledingham
Friends of the Welsh National Opera
(01865) 865 806