Emily

2013

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.

The first entry of Emily, in my manuscript
The first entry of Emily, in my manuscript

Characters

  • 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

Performances

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

Duration

110 minutes (Act 1: 60’, Act 2: 50’)

Instrumentation

fl(+picc), cl, bcl, cornet, tenor horn, strings 1.1.1.1.1, 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.

First performance

4th-6th July 2013, Hippodrome Theatre, Todmorden.

Video

A highlights video which was shot on the 5th and 6th July 2013 at Todmorden.

Request a score / parts

If you would like to see a score and/or require a set of parts for this music, please contact me.