Original artwork by John Couzens
Mahogany Opera flies in the face of tradition and fashion, producing a total experience of opera. Formed in 2003 by Frederic Wake-Walker, Mahogany Opera produces lesser-known works of opera with a radical approach creating, in effect, new works while showcasing the talents of young professional artists.
Russian Tales weaves together a one-act opera and a sung ballet to produce an exciting new piece of theatre. The two works – The Bear by William Walton and The Fox by Igor Stravinsky – combine satire, farce and pastiche to make brutal and comical attacks on love, art and society. Set in early 20th century Russia and inspired by the Constructivist movement and Meyerhold’s biomechanics, this production paints an angular, industrial, cartoon-like picture of a world on the move.
Russian Tales takes place at the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh (where The Bear was premiered) on 18th & 19th April 2008 and a Victorian warehouse in Shoreditch called The Village Underground (where no opera has ever been performed!) on 24th, 25th, 26th April 2008.
Director Frederic Wake-Walker has worked at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Los Angeles Opera and New York City Opera. He recently directed Hansel & Gretel for Opera North and in 2008 he directs The Perfect Woman for Scottish Opera’s Five:15 project and Die Zauberflöte for the Glyndebourne Tour.
The cast is made up of some excellent young professional singers. Catherine Hopper is at the National Opera Studio, Alex Ashworth has sung roles at Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera, Benjamin Segal sang the Mayor with the Britten-Pears Young Artists in Albert Herring, Marcin Gesla is currently on the Royal Academy opera course, Stefan Holmström has sung with ETO and John McMunn played the Madwoman in Mahogany Opera’s last production of Curlew River.
Nicholas Collon conducts the Aurora Orchestra. Founded in 2004, Aurora brings together some of the most talented young musicians in the country in a dynamic chamber ensemble committed to innovative programming and exciting music making. In 2008, they have residencies at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Aldeburgh Easter Festival. Nicholas Collon conducted the first ever staged opera in the West Bank and has also worked at the Bregenz Festival.
Review of Mahogany Opera’s last production Curlew River August 2006
“This is Mahogany Opera’s third production since their inception in 2003, and there is every reason to expect great things from them in the future. One of their stated aims is to give young professional singers the opportunity to perform, which is worthy in itself; but how much more so when, like Curlew River, the production is so assured and compelling…director/producer Frederic Wake-Walker has pulled off quite a coup here.” Opera Now 2006