The Bear Goes Walkabout

Sage Two

As part of their summer 2013 tour, the Melos Sinfonia and Helios Chamber Opera present William Walton’s extravaganza in one act, The Bear, with two new chamber operas, Bare and Red as Blood, by two of the UK’s most talented emerging composers, Philip Ashworth and Joel Rust.

Red as Blood

Music: Joel Rust
Libretto: Extract from Njáls Saga

Red as Blood is set in Iceland at the dawn of the second millennium, a country just a century old but already deeply divided; an intricate legal system and new state religion of Christianity compete with older traditions, where Pagan gods are worshipped and crimes are paid for in blood. In this story, taken from Njáls Saga, Hildigunnr seeks vengeance against the men who murdered her husband Höskuldr, and sets out to manipulate Flosi, her uncle, to do the deed. They lie on opposite sides of the fault-lines of Icelandic society, but Hildigunnr desperately hopes that the ties of blood will be stronger than any others. And she has a final weapon; the cloak that Flosi gave to Höskuldr, now covered in his dried blood.


Music: Philip Ashworth
Libretto: Natasha Collie

Famed dressmaker Bellisant Bardell earns a living designing exquisite mourning clothes for widows. Emerald-encrusted veils, shimmering chiffon shawls and floor-sweeping gowns in gushing black taffeta: her creations take women’s grief to histrionic heights. But amidst the voluptuous velvet vestments, there are some skeletons in the Bardell closet. For Bellisant and her two sons, things are about to be laid bare…

Bellisant/Hildigunnr: Helen Stanley
Franklin/Flosi: Henry Neill
Edward/Narrator: David Fearn

The Bear

Music: William Walton
Libretto: Paul Dehn and William Walton, based on Anton Chekov’s The Bear

Walton’s operatic extravaganza The Bear is a farcical tale in which emotions run high and impulsive behaviour resounds. The widow Popova has entombed herself within her own house, sworn to remain faithful to the memory of her licentious husband until the day she dies. Her vigil, however, is disturbed by the arrival of Smirnov, who possesses a singularity of vision that can only match that of Popova. He demands she immediately return him the money owed to him by her husband but when Popova refuses, an argument ensues that quickly escalates into a tempest of anger which can only end with one outcome…

Popova: Urszula Bock
Smirnov: Angus McPhee
Luka: Sam Carl

Conductor: Oliver Zeffman

Director: Ella Marchment
Lighting Design: Carl Preece
Set Design: Kate Auster
Costume Design: Florence Mein

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