'The Knife of Dawn' is Hannah Kendall’s one-man chamber opera for Baritone Eric Greene, directed by John Walton and set to a libretto by Tessa McWatt. It was premiered at Roundhouse's Sackler Space in London on Thursday 6 October 2016, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Hear and Now on Saturday 22 October 2016.
Listen to an extract from 'The Knife of Dawn' here.
'Dramatically intense and atmospheric, a powerful snapshot of a poet incarcerated in British Guyana.' The Stage
'The intensity of Carter's passionate engagement both with his country and his art comes over with dignity and eloquence in baritone Eric Greene's performance, which is a genuine tour de force of empowered vocalism and expressive concentration.' The Guardian
'Often ingenious in its sharp definition.' The Guardian
'Hannah Kendall has responded with music that is spare and articulate, as befits the subject...The result is intricate and imaginative'. The Financial Times.
A chamber opera in one act, 'The Knife of Dawn' is based on the story of Guyanese political activist and poet Martin Carter. It is set in his prison cell towards the end of a hunger strike in 1953. He was incarcerated without charge. In Carter's own words, he had been fighting for and was wholly '...dedicated to the winning of liberation from a foreign country.' Great Britain.
Carter is considered one of the leading Caribbean writers, and Hannah also set six of his own incredibly lyrical and evocative poems. These works have been drawn together by McWatt's libretto, four of which are also a stand-alone song cycle for baritone.
As a British composer of Caribbean/Guyanese decent, Hannah wanted the opportunity to highlight Guyana's significance within the UK's history, drawing on cultural, political and social issues still very relevant today.
MUSIC Hannah Kendall
LIBRETTO Tessa McWatt
DIRECTOR John Walton
DESIGNER Martin Thomas
LIGHTING DESIGNER Zoë Spurr
MOVEMENT DIRECTOR Svetlana Biba
PRODUCER Rhuti Carr
CONDUCTOR Rebecca Miller
SOLO BARITONE Eric Greene
SOPRANO 1 Anna Snow, Juice Vocal Ensemble
SOPRANO 2 Sarah Dacey, Juice Vocal Ensemble
ALTO Kerry Andrew, Juice Vocal Ensemble
HARP Tamara Young
VIOLIN Mandhira de Saram
VIOLA Clifton Harrison
VIOLONCELLO Zoë Martlew
REPETITEUR Belinda Jones
CONSULTANT Dr Gemma Robinson
ERIC GREENE, BARITONE
Eric Greene's current and future engagements include SPARBÜCHSEN BILLY Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny Teatro dell’opera di Roma, GUNTHER Götterdämmerung Teatro Massimo in Palermo, AENEAS Dido and Aeneas Birmingham Opera Company and CROWN Porgy and Bess Sydney Symphony and Spoleto Festival USA.
Most recent engagements include the leading role of JANITOR Tansy Davies’ Between Worlds (world premiere) English National Opera at the Barbican, DONNER Das Rheingold Teatro Massimo in Palermo, ESCAMILLO Carmen Portland Opera, CROWN Porgy and Bess Lyric Opera of Chicago and Atlanta Opera, QUEEQUEG Moby Dick Washington National Opera, IVAN KHOVANSKY Khovanshschina and SEGISMUNDO Jonathan Dove’s Life is a Dream (world premiere) Birmingham Opera, BILLY BIGELOW Carousel Opera North at the Barbican, GUNTHER Götterdämmerung Opera North, MELOT Tristan und Isolde Casals Festival with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, AMONASRO Aida Opera Memphis and GERMONT La Traviata Pine Mountain Festival.
Other performances have included PING Turandot Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Carolina, ESCAMILLO Carmen Virginia Opera, ROBERT GARNER in Danielpour’s Margaret Garner (world premiere) Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Carolina, ESCAMILLO La Tragédie de Carmen Augusta Opera, SOLOIST Kirke Mechem’s Songs to the Slave and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem Bel Canto Chorus Milwaukee, SHARPLESS Madama Butterfly Eugene Opera and SOLOIST Richard Danielpour’s Pastime Northwestern University.
Additionally, Eric Greene made debuts around the world with noted companies such as Opéra Comique, the Granada International Festival, Grand Théâtre Luxembourg, , Teatro Nacional de São Carlos Lisbon, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Symphony, and the Los Angeles Opera as JAKE Porgy and Bess.
He was the winner of the Leontyne Price Vocal Competition in Maryland, and was awarded the Gluck Foundation scholarship.
TESSA MCWATT, AUTHOR
Tessa McWatt is the author of six novels and a novella for young adults. Her second novel, Dragons City, was shortlisted for the City of Toronto Book Awards and the Governor General Awards of Canada. Her other novels include This Body, Step Closer, and Vital Signs, which was nominated for the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Her latest novel Higher Ed, is forthcoming from Random House (Canada) and Scribe (UK) in 2015. She teaches creative writing at the University of East London where she developed the BA and MA in Creative Writing and founded the UEL Writing Centre.
JOHN WALTON, DIRECTOR
John's work as a director includes 'Instructions for American Servicemen in Brtain' (The Theatre, Chipping Norton), 'Winston On the Run' (UK tour), Yukio Mishima’s 'Yoroboshi' (New Wimbledon Studio), the devised comedy show 'Potato - A Show That Will Save the World' (Edinburgh Fringe and European Tour), a musical version of 'A Little Princess' (Hedgerow Theatre, Pennsylvania) and 'Blasted' by Sarah Kane (Old Fire Station, Oxford). He works regularly in comedy, and has directed shows such as 'The Real MacGuffins – Come Again', 'Dr Brown Because' and 'Marcello al-Dente Relives a Catastrophic Moment in his Life' (all Edinburgh Fringe) as well as working with a variety of other stand-up and sketch comedians. John was previously associate director at Gifford's Circus alongside director Cal McCrystal. Assistant director credits include 'Dracula' at the Mercury Colchester, directed by Cal McCrystal, and the premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new translation of Racine’s 'Britannicus', directed by Irina Brown. John graduated from the Ecole Philippe Gaullier in 2007.
Hannah also gratefully acknowledges the support from generous individual donors via crowdfuding.
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