music by Mike Westbrook libretto by Kate Westbrook
Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival
University of Plymouth
February 25th 2007
with Marie Vassiliou (soprano) Brendan Ashe (piano)
Carolyn Doorbar musical director Marylin Johnstone, director Peter Wild, technical director.
commissioned and produced by noc opera
an opera in one act, duration 1 hour
"I stand on the Cape at the end of the world. I am confronted by memories of childhood, of my tattooed lover, the murder of my mother, of my unaccountable father." The sins of the fathers will fall on the next generation and the Furies are approaching.
'Cape Gloss' is drawn from Greek myth, but it describes the world some years from now.
In the moments before the world is brought to an end
by our exploitation and folly,
Mathilda looks back at her life and faces her death.
As she sings "I am become the Earth", there is an ambiguity, - has Mathilda been driven to insanity, or is this truly the end of our blue earth?
Marie Vassilou - Cape Gloss 2007
MARIE VASSILIOU soprano Marie Vassiliou studied Viola and Singing at the Royal College of Music, where she won numerous prizes and the Tagore Gold Medal, as outstanding student of her year.
She has recently joined the senior vocal teaching staff at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Marie has performed widely in the UK, including all the major London concert venues, and at such leading festivals as the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the BBC Proms, at which she performed Julian Anderson's Seadrift. She has recently returned from triumphant début recitals in Zurich & the Far East and has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, 4 & Radio France. In opera she has worked in Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia and the USA, in a wide range of major roles from the baroque to the present day, including Belisa in the Austrian première of Simon Holt's The Nightingale's to Blame. She has particularly established herself as an interpreter of Baroque & Contemporary music and has performed as a soloist with the Janiculum, Purcell Quartet, Composers' Ensemble, Contemporary Consort, Continuum, Endymion and the Philharmonia, giving many premières. This year she premieres Anthony Gilbert's song cycle Encantos, written especially for her and Endymion, as well as two new operas written especially for her. She will also release a commercial recording of all the song cycles of Matthew Curtis.
Kate Westbrook is a singer and song writer. She began making theatre pieces when she was teaching at Leeds College of Art in the early 1970s She joined the Mike Westbrook Band in 1974 and toured extensively. She and Mike have worked together on a number of opera and music-theatre projects including 'Quichotte' for Ensemble Justiniana; and ' The Ass' , a music-theatre piece based on the D.H.Lawrence poem, which toured with Foco Novo Theatre Company and was recorded for BBC Radio 3.
Her first full libretto 'Jago' was for Wedmore Opera in 2000 with music by Mike, and with Marie Vassiliou in one of the main roles. With Aachen based composer Heribert Leuchter, she wrote in 2002 'Reich durch Arm', a music-theatre piece commissioned by WDR. She has done TV and radio broadcasts in the UK and Europe and as far afield as Australia and Canada, and has made many albums,- her most recent recording, The Nijinska Chamber (Voiceprint 383CD ), for voice and accordion, is dedicated to the dancer and choreographer Bronislava Nijnska.
Mike Westbrook has led and composed for a succession of Big Bands and small groups since the 1960's. He has toured extensively throughout Europe and further afield and made 40 albums. He has written for radio, TV and cinema. His principal compositions for Jazz Orchestra include 'Citadel/Room 315' featuring John Surman, 'On Duke's Birthday' dedicated to the memory of Duke Ellington, ' Big Band Rossini' which was featured in the 1992 BBC Proms. Compositions for voice include settings of European poetry, notably in ' The Cortege' and 'The Westbrook Blake'. 'Art Wolf' is one of a whole series of collaborations with Kate Westbrook that ranges from their jazz cabaret 'Mama Chicago' to the more recent 'Waxeywork Show'. His opera 'Coming Through Slaughter' based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, was premiered in 1994. 'Jago', with libretto by Kate, was commissioned by Wedmore Opera in 2000.
His latest album 'Chanson Irresponsable', performed by the New Westbrook Orchestra, a group that combines jazz and classical musicians, is released on Enja Records.