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Commentary

08 Feb 2019

Independent Opera & Britten Sinfonia celebrate bicentenary of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert's births

To celebrate the bicentenary of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s births in 2019, Independent Opera (IO) and Britten Sinfonia present the first public performance of Joby Talbot’s new cantata A Sheen of Dew on Flowers on Thursday 11 April at the Barbican.

Independent Opera and Britten Sinfonia present Joby Talbot's A Sheen of Dew on Flowers; Britten Sinfonia, Natalie Murray Beale (conductor);

Above: Joby Talbot

 

An Independent Opera commission, Talbot took inspiration from Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet designed for her by Prince Albert, which was purchased for the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2017 through the generosity of IO co-founders, Bill and Judy Bollinger, and Douglas and James Bollinger as a gift to the Nation and the Commonwealth. The coronet, which will go on permanent public display from 11 April in the newly refurbished William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, is the highlight of the V&A’s bicentenary celebrations, alongside events, displays and new publications.

For his new cantata, Joby Talbot has set poetry from across the world that explore themes of love and loss: “A Sheen of Dew on Flowers sets sacred texts by women, collected from all parts of the world and written across three millennia. The poems (translated into English by the American poet Jane Hirshfield) speak of love and mourning and are put together in a way that suggests a burgeoning love affair that is cut short by bereavement. It thus mirrors the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's own relationship, while celebrating the great museum that was such an important part of their shared vision,”

Conducting Britten Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia Voices for the first time is Natalie Murray Beale, IO's Creative Director, who will be joined by soloists Kelley O’Connor and Tobias Greenhalgh. The evening will also include a performance of Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony No. 3 in recognition of the composer’s relationship with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This performance marks IO’s third collaboration with Britten Sinfonia following productions of Hartmann’s Simplicius Simplicissimus and Voseček’s Biedermann and the Arsonists .

Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells was founded in 2005 to support outstanding young artists in every discipline of opera. Seeing the need to bridge the gap between raw talent and a professional career, co-founders Bill and Judy Bollinger, together with Alessandro Talevi, devised a series of initiatives to support young and talented artists. IO mounted its first production - Rossini’s La Scala di Seta - directed by Alessandro Talevi, within the year and, two years later, launched its comprehensive Artist Support scheme with Natalie Murray Beale as consultant. She has overseen the running and development of the scheme which to date has awarded scholarships, fellowships and one-off grants to 116 artists in the fields of singing, directing, design, choreography and production. In addition to the 137 grants worth more than £800,000, part of IO’s ethos is also to provide professional mentoring support.

In 2017, IO added a further string to its bow when it launched the first of its annual recitals at the Wigmore Hall, held for IO's current vocal award recipients, all recent graduates from the UK’s leading music conservatoires. The same year IO announced the start of their sponsorship of the biennial Wigmore Hall International Song Competition from 2019, with Natalie Murray Beale as a member of the jury.

Bill and Judy Bollinger were recognised as Philanthropists of the Year at the 2016 International Opera Awards

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