Purcell’s King Arthur

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2012/13… more events…

Friday 31st May

Town Hall

New London Consort

Philip Pickett  conductor

Nicholas Le Prevost actor (Merlin)

Joanne Lunn Cupid

Faye Newton Siren

Anna Dennis Philidel

Penelope Appleyard Siren

Adriana Festeu Priestess

Tim Travers-Brown Spirit

Joseph Cornwell Comus

Andrew King Man

Nicholas Hurndall Smith Shepherd

Benjamin Bevan Grimbald

Michael George Cold Genius

Simon Grant Aeolus

Ace McCarron lighting designer

Please note
The role of Merlin, which was due to be played by Oliver Cotton, will now be played by Nicholas Le Prevost.


  King Arthur


Celebrating the triumph of good over evil in Arthur’s enchanted island realm, Merlin the magician tells a gripping tale of love, battles and betrayal. Pagans sacrifice, warriors triumph, spirits enchant, nymphs and shepherds pipe and dance, the Cold Genius shivers, and naked sirens seduce – all to some of Purcell’s greatest music.

Oliver Condy, Editor of BBC Music Magazine, explains why he has recommended tonight’s concert:

No-one who saw the New London Consort’s stunning Fairy Queen in 2011 will want to miss their new version of one of Purcell’s most vibrant works. Performed by an A-list cast of singers and a colourful consort of baroque instruments, it’s sure to be an enchanting evening.




Review by Verity Quaite, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Despite my reservations about the juxtaposition of the old with the new, the authentic instrumentation with the lighting, the performance by the New London Consort was exemplary and these talented musicians lived up to their reputation for artistry and virtuosity.  Anna Dennis’ depiction of the spirit Philidel was impressive, with her full and agile voice suiting the part well. Faye Newton and Penelope Appleyard’s voices as the Sirens sent to distract Arthur from his mission were well matched, and Appleyard, overpowered by Dennis in choruses, came into her own here. Unfortunately Adriana Festeu appeared to struggle in the lower register at times, while Joanne Lunn gave a consistently high calibre of performance. Similarly, countertenor Tim Travers Brown, tenor Andrew King and baritone Benjamin Bevan all executed their parts admirably.”     …



Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “Merlin moved events rapidly on in Act III, relating the capture of Arthur’s blind betrothed Emmeline by former suitor and Saxon leader Oswald, before illustrating his magical powers by curing her blindness. Pickett had moved the Passacaglia to this point, believing it to be its rightful and original location; this took us mid-act to the interval. Cast as Cupid an animated Joanne Lunn got the second half off to a cracking start with her What Ho! thou genius of this isle to introduce a shivering Michael George as Cold Genius. I thought the choral singing of See, See, we assemble excelled here, music and voices the epitome of ‘quiv’ring with cold’. The strings superbly led by Penelope Spencer had a primary role in the subsequent Dance – a cold scene that warmed the cockles. The brief Act IV saw Le Provost tell Arthur to trust nothing he encounters in his quest to reclaim Emmeline from the enchanting wood. Newton and Appleyard as two Sirens generated an ethereal resonance to support the illusions that the king encountered, but naturally the good spirits overcame the bad.”     …



Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The link man was actor Nicholas le Prevost, telling the story in disturbing modern vernacular; raising laughs and groans from the absorbed listeners however.

Ace McCarron’s interesting and imaginative lighting helped throughout from a flitting airy spirit single moving spot, to cool icy shadows. The stage management was most impressive, with smooth interchanges and movements from the soloists.

Four male soloists responded wonderfully to sparky tabor for a lively front of stage dance, after which soprano Joanne Lunn sang the familiar Fairest Isle with true commitment and lovely tone.”     …

The Importance of Being Earnest

Saturday 28 April 2012 at 7.00pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Thomas Adès conductor
Barbara Hannigan Cecily Cardew
Peter Tantsits John Worthing
Joshua Bloom Algernon Moncrieff
Katalin Karolyi Gwendolen Fairfax
Hilary Summers Miss Prism
Alan Ewing Lady Bracknell
Benjamin Bevan Lane / Merriman

Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest (sung in English with English surtitles) 90′

21st Annniversary Symphony Hall“A Handbag?!” Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is surely the single wittiest play in the English language. Thomas Adès conducts Birmingham’s world-renowned BCMG and a stellar cast in this definitive concert performance of Irish composer Gerald Barry’s brilliant new opera. “My favourite living composer finds the hilarious musical equivalent for Oscar Wilde’s perfect absurdist paradoxes inhis riotously outrageous and funny new opera.” Thomas Adès

“The opera is hysterically funny. The score is highly sophisticated and indescribably zany… The world now has something rare: a new genuinely comic opera…”Los Angeles Times, 8 April 2011

Click here to find out more about composer Gerald Barry and his music.

Stephen Fry, Fiona Shaw, Thomas Adès and Gerald Barry discuss Barry’s new opera ahead of the upcoming European premiere performances.

The performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on May 19th 2012

Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

“Turning Oscar Wilde’s “Earnest” Into an Opera”

Click here for full article

Article by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

“Gerald Barry talks about his new opera The Importance of Being Earnest”

Click here for full article


Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Orchestrally, Barry’s score is fascinating, fizzingly through-composed, winkingly allusive at times (including Janacek and Wagner, and the first two acts ending with references to the “Auld Lang Syne” with which the opera, in Barry’s own car-crashing arrangement, begins), and rich in imaginative touches, such as a duet for wind-machines, a seemingly endlessly prolonged brass trill, and two elegantly choreographed plate-smashing cameos.


Thomas Ades conducted with generous commitment, enthusiastically reciprocated by all concerned onstage, and most of a pleasingly sizeable audience.”



Review by Hilary Maddocks, Observer (at Barbican)

Click here for full review

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian (at Barbican)

Click here for full review

Review by Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph (at Barbican)

Click here for full review