Sir Malcolm Arnold Opera Premiere on 20th October


United KingdomUnited Kingdom Sir Malcolm Arnold Opera Premiere on 20th October

The 7th Malcolm Arnold Festival returns to the composer’s birthplace, Northampton, on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October 2012 at Royal and Derngate, with the world premiere of Sir Malcolm’s delightful comic opera, The Dancing Master?

Born in Northampton in 1921, Sir Malcolm Arnold’s music was hugely popular during the 1950s, and though his style fell out of fashion during the experimentation of the following decade, his works – often dazzling and witty – never lost their appeal with audiences. We are perhaps only just becoming to appreciate Arnold’s influence on 20th-century British music – in particular, his fine symphonic cycle and many film scores – and this year’s festival offers some rare opportunities to sample live performances of Arnold’s works for stage and screen.

One of the highlights of this packed weekend will be the world premiere of The Dancing Master (1951), which Arnold and his librettist, Joe Mendoza, based on the Restoration play by William Wycherley. The plot follows the heroine, Miranda and her two suitors: a French dandy and Gerard, who disguises himself as a dancing master. The first full semi-staged performance of this work to date, it makes use of both Arnold’s sophisticated and lighter music and is perfectly paired with a performance of Strauss’s operetta, Die Fledermaus. With a cast of brilliant young soloists accompanied by The Ealing Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of John Gibbons, this comic double-bill promises to be a delight.
Other highlights include the world premiere of a recently discovered work for flute and trumpet composed for Sir Malcolm by his composition teacher, Gordon Jacob; a rare outing for Arnold’s Concert Piece for Percussion and Piano, performed by the brilliant young percussionist Jude Carlton; a programme of music from stage and screen – including Hobson’s Choice, David Copperfield and Bridge on the River Kwai march – performed by the Northampton County Youth Orchestra, and a thrilling ‘Night at the Ballet’ to round off events.

The Festival’s Director, Paul Harris, said: “We are delighted to be giving the world premiere of Malcolm Arnold’s only major opera. For one reason or another it has never received a live staged performance – and I can guarantee a real treat. It’s a comedy and contains some classic Arnold writing.”

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