Emily is my first full-length opera based on the deeds of Emily Wilding Davison, a Suffragette who was killed in 1913 after she apparently attempted to carry out an act of protest on the course of the Derby. She was hit by a galloping horse (which was, surely by coincidence, the King’s horse) and died later in hospital from head injuries. Almost overnight she became a widely known public (albeit dead) figure, hated by many as much as she was venerated by others. Her funeral was attended by tens of thousands and was a seminal event in the history of the Suffragette movement.
Emily Davison was one of the more radical figures of the suffragette movement, often carrying out violent direct action against the Government independently of the official body of the suffragette movement, the Womens’ Social and Political Union. Her acts of protest ranged from vandalism (primarily window-breaking) to arson (putting lit matches in pillar-boxes) to assault (including one count of assaulting a vicar who happened to resemble Lloyd George). She was repeatedly sent to prison, where her protests continued in the form of hunger strikes, which were brutally countered by force-feeding. This was almost as controversial at the time as it would be today, and in protest against the force-feeding, Emily Davison at least once attempted suicide while in prison.
Production photographs and more are available at Radius Opera.
Emily Wilding Davison (soprano)
The Doctor (baritone)
A Woman (soprano)
The Policeman / The Prison Officer (bass-baritone / bass)
The Politician (baritone)
The Judge (tenor)
The Reporter (spoken)
Two Hawkers (tenor, baritone)
Prison Wardresses / Hospital Orderlies (non-singing)
Chorus: Suffragettes, Policemen, Racegoers
The world premiere of the full opera took place at the Hippodrome Theatre in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, 4th-6th July 2013, at which the photos in the slideshow below were taken. Cast for the world premiere:
Emily: Stephanie Stanway
The Doctor: Marc Callahan
A Woman: Meinir Wyn Roberts
The Policeman / The Prison Officer: Louis Hurst
The Politician: Christopher Jacklin
The Judge: Sebastian Charlesworth
The Reporter: James Claxton
Music Director: Antony Brannick
Designer: Lara Booth
Director: Tim Benjamin
The Prologue and Scene 1 were performed in a “preview” with a reduced chamber arrangement at the New Music North West festival in Manchester, March 2012, produced by Re:Sound.
Cast for the preview:
Emily: Rebecca Lea
The Policeman: Matthew Kellett
The Politician: Jonathan Ainscough
Director: Katherine Wilde
110 minutes (Act 1: 60’, Act 2: 50’)
fl(+picc), cl, bcl, cornet, tenor horn, strings 220.127.116.11.1, harp, pf, perc. 6 principals (soprano, soprano, high tenor, baritone/tenor, baritone, bass), 4 sub-principals (baritone x 2, bass-baritone, speaker). Vocal doublings are possible to reduce requirement to 5 principals and 3 sub-principals. Chorus.
4th-6th July 2013, Hippodrome Theatre, Todmorden.
A highlights video which was shot on the 5th and 6th July 2013 at Todmorden.
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