Covent Garden-based Royal Opera House (ROH) has announced a full day of live and online events to highlight the work of women in opera and ballet to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March.
From 11am to 6pm on 8 March, anyone travelling through London’s St Pancras station can enjoy Lost and Found – seven free, newly commissioned mini-operas created by female composer and librettist teams following an open call from the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme (JPYA).
The seven works will be performed at various locations around the station. People waiting at the arrival gate at the Eurostar Terminal will experience Georgia Barnes and Olivia Bell’s Everything you carry and Rose Hall and Katie Colombus’s It’s The Little Things, two works that explore and reflect on shared experiences and moments of magic found in the mundanity of everyday commuting. Travellers at the National Rail Service departure boards can listen to Laura Reid and Oge Nwosu’s Detritus – told through the eyes of a cleaner, who unites people with their lost items.
St Pancras International’s iconic statue ‘The Meeting Place’ will provide the backdrop for four works centred on time and travel. Sarah Lianne Lewis and Sophia Chapadjiev’s The Parting Place tells the tale of an elusive voyeur, while the fast-paced I just wanna be (in Center Parcs) by Joanna Taylor and Kerry Priest explores journeys beyond the everyday. Hidden disabilities are highlighted in Anna Braithwaite and Kerry Priest’s The Hardest Journey, and comic opera Mini Break by Victoria Bernarth and Teresa Howard spotlights the panic of lost passports and the inevitable bickering that follows.
Lost and Found is part of the Europalia Arts Festival, a biennial event with a diverse artistic programme focusing on a country or a theme. This year’s theme is Tracks and Trains, in celebration of the railway. The micro-operas are all based on stories, memories and observations submitted by the public on the theme of rail travel, exploring themes of time, motion, meetings and farewells.
Lost and Found music directors Yshani Perinpanayagam and Ellie Slorach are alumni of JPYA Women Conductors courses, and director Diane Page and associate director Joseph Hancock participated in a JPYAP training programme before and during lockdown for theatre directors looking to transfer to opera.
Some of the writing teams have been mentored by award-winning composer Laura Bowler, whose new work The Blue Woman will premiere in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre this summer, directed by critically acclaimed theatre and opera director Katie Mitchell.
Singers include Jette Parker Young Artists British soprano April Koyejo-Audiger, South African tenor Thando Mjandana, South African baritone Chuma Sijeqa, Congolese bass Blaise Malaba and Russian tenor Egor Zhuravskii. They are joined by British sopranos Siân Dicker and Milly Forrest, South African baritone Njabulo Madlala, British tenor Sam Marston, Emirati tenor Zahid Siddiqui and British bass Jamie Woollard. Accompanying them are players from Belgium chamber ensemble Casco Phil, whose artistic director, Benjamin Haemhouts, devised the project.
Angelique MacDonald, JPYA producer, commented: “It has been a privilege to read the personal stories that were shared with us for this project, and watch them inspire seven new works in different styles and approaches. Opera is an innately human artform and it’s hugely exciting to be able to perform such relatable work with Casco Phil at St Pancras International.”
On the evening of 8 March, a free, live-streamed ROH Insight – Interrogating the Ballerina – will examine society’s perception of the female ballet dancer, taking the image of the 19th century dancer as the starting point for a wider discussion about preconceptions, prejudices and shifting representations of women in ballet up to the present day.
Former Director of The Royal Ballet Dame Monica Mason will be joined by current Principal Sarah Lamb, Curator of Dance at the V&A Jane Pritchard and dramaturg Uzma Hameed, who worked on Wayne McGregor’s trailblazing The Dante Project. The event will be hosted by TV presenter Brenda Emmanus.
The discussion will run from 7.45-9pm. Tickets to watch in person in the Royal Opera House’s Clore Studio are available to buy from ROH’s website for £16, and the event will be broadcast on the ROH YouTube Channel for free.
Content will also be available throughout the day on the Royal Opera House’s social platforms, celebrating ballet and opera heroines, classic and contemporary. Tune into the ROH’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok to see what’s on offer.
On 12 March, ROH will be launching its new HerStory tour. This behind-the-scenes guided tour will reveal the stories of some of the talented and innovative women who have directed, worked on and performed in productions at Covent Garden.
The tours will draw attention to war-time leaders, pioneering choreographers and composers defying gender conventions. They run on select dates to 26 March and last 75 minutes. Tickets are available from the ROH website.
International Women’s Day is designed to celebrate women’s achievements, increase visibility, call out inequality and help in the fight for a world more diverse, equitable and inclusive. More information about the day is available at International Women’s Day 2022.
The Royal Opera House is running a programme of online and live events to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March.