Excerpts from a new three act music drama, entitled “The Butcher of Rye” were presented to a “loosely invited” audience drawn mainly from Rye Arts Festival and Fletcher in Rye CIC in the Town Hall on Tuesday, December 8.
Two days hard work from the operatic team testified to the quality of the composition and libretto by Simon Morecroft and Martha Littlehailes respectively. The plot draws inspiration from the rivalries, the social tensions and the hardships of life in this eighteenth century town. The music was by turn gently melodic, poignant and charged with menace.
It provided each of the singers with powerful roles in a tragedy which, throughout, engaged the listeners emotionally, even though the outcome was well known in the folklore of Rye. The voices of mezzo-soprano, Katie Coventry, and baritones, Nicholas Morton and Jerome Knox, were beautifully projected as they wove together and held their listeners.
Hugh Kermode of Fletcher in Rye CIC welcomed back Alasdair Kitchen, director of the Euphonia Orchestra, who has produced two full-scale operas for the Rye Arts Festival in the last two years – “La Traviata” and “Don Giovanni” at the Milligan Theatre.
Peter Brice, music director of the Rye Festival, was clearly impressed and a full-scale staging of the opera is to be looked forward to next September, if his committee approve likewise. Niki Stuart, who hosted the operatic team during their visit, commented: “This workshop was a really interesting process and everyone worked really hard”.
Photo: Kenneth Bird