Playing with Fire: Opera Double Bill

A Music project Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

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Continuing its reputation for tackling taboos, Size Zero Opera presents the world premiere of two new chamber operas that grope and grapple with controversy and contrast. Arne Gieshoff's The Viagron, inspired by Petronius' Satyricon; a tale of sexual misadventure and unrequited libido, is a bluntly uncompromising modern take on the classical text. Darren Bloom's Little Kettlehead is a playfully satirical commentary on race and gender, set against the backdrop of colonial Africa.

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On 3rd Sep 2013 we successfully raised

£5,060

of £5,000 target
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42 days


VIDEO DESCRIPTION- Workshop on a small section of Darren Bloom's Kettlehead at LSO St Lukes with Laura J Bowler (Polly) and Andrew Macintosh (Cook) and the Size Zero Opera Ensemble.

Continuing its reputation for tackling taboos, Size Zero Opera presents the world premiere of two new chamber operas that grope and grapple with controversy and contrast.  Arne Gieshoff's The Viagron, inspired by Petronius' Satyricon; a tale of sexual misadventure and unrequited libido, is a bluntly uncompromising modern take on the classical text. Darren Bloom's Little Kettlehead is a playfully satirical commentary on race and gender, set against the backdrop of colonial Africa.

The Project

Size Zero Opera have commissioned emerging composers, Darren Bloom and Arne Gieshoff, to write two new operas to be developed and premiered as a double bill with emerging opera creatives and performers. 'Playing With Fire: Opera Double Bill' consists of Arne Gieshoff's The Viagron and Darren Bloom's Little Kettlehead. The operas will be previewed at the internationally renowned Tête à Tête Opera Festival - held at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith (London) - on August 8th and 9th 2013, followed by a run of six performances at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston (London), from August 13th-17th 2013.

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Your Support

The money raised will go toward supporting the artists, singers, musicians and repetiteur throughout the rehearsals and production period.

Size Zero Opera endeavours to support individuals both artistically and financially - not only helping them to develop their craft but also paying them for the work that they do. (So many young artists/professionals are expected to work for free in order to gain experience these days! We believe in providing a wage as well as an opportunity.) The success of past productions would not have been possible without the generous support of those individuals and organisations who share Size Zero Opera's ethos: to provide an accessible platform for young composers and creatives to have their work promoted and produced, as well as an opportunity for emerging artists to work in renowned venues with industry professionals. There is still a lot of money that we need to raise to ensure that we can get this project "off the ground". Even the smallest amount will go a long way, so please do support us in any which way you can.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have financially supported Size Zero Opera in the past and those who endeavour to support us in the future.

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The operas

The Viagron is a 30-minute chamber opera - for five vocalists and a seven-piece ensemble - based on a section of Petronius' Satyricon. The piece affords a meditation on the idea of impotence and failed sexuality - highlighting a failure in modern Western masculinity by linking together two characters: Old Encolpius (a modern Greek banker) and Young Encolpius (an Ancient Greek warrior). The action shall take place in a focussed, intense space; thus mirroring the violence present within the music. The composer, Arne Gieshoff, was a recipient of the RPS Composition Prize in 2012 and is currently studying with Kenneth Hesketh at the Royal College of Music. The libretto has been written by writer and opera director, Frank Allison.

Little Kettlehead is a 60-minute chamber opera - for six vocalists and an eight-piece ensemble - based on a short story by Helen Bannerman (www.sterlingtimes.org/kettlehead2.htm). It is a piece that playfully, yet seriously, pokes fun at gender roles and race relations - appropriately reflected by the "storytelling style" of the production and emphasis placed on playfulness and imagination within the stage language. The action will take place in a burnt copper, colonial African kitchen. The composer, Darren Bloom, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. Writer and pianist, Neil Georgeson, has constructed the libretto. Darren Bloom has been working with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, as his mentor, on this project. Those working on the project have received mentoring from individuals such as John Fulljames.

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The production

Matthew Monaghan - who recently graduated with an MA in Theatre Directing from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and is currently working as Staff Director at the English National Opera - will direct both works. Fly Davis - London fringe theatre design veteran and has been working with Size Zero Opera for the past two years - has designed each set. Costumes have been designed by Stephanie Williams

Core production team

Laura Bowler - Artistic Director and Company Manager, Amanda Carrick - Assistant Company Manager, Matthew Monaghan- Director, Jonathan Mann - Principal Conductor, Max Welford - Ensemble Leader, Brian Perkins- Stage Manager

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We have already been successful in gaining some funding from the PRS Foundation. Little Kettlehead has been co-developed by the LSO Soundhub scheme, who have provided workshop dates from November 2012-May 2013 for those involved to experiment and develop the work prior to the completion of the opera.

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