The Royal Opera presents The Blue Woman – a new, political opera exploring the psychological aftermath of sexual violence experienced by women. Composed by Laura Bowler, directed by Katie Mitchell, and with a libretto by Laura Lomas, the work opens on Wednesday 6 July in the Linbury Theatre, and invites a conversation about how the art form deals with the topic of violence against women.
Katie Mitchell says: ‘Laura Bowler and Laura Lomas have created an experimental new opera that brings content and the form together in a perfect and disturbing harmony. It’s a privilege to be involved in bringing their work to life.’
Sarah Crabtree and Kate Wyatt, Creative Producers, The Royal Opera, add: ‘In repertory opera plots, sexual and physical violence against women is commonplace. From Tosca to Butterfly, female protagonists meet violent ends in stories predominantly created by male composers and librettists. Since these more traditional works were written, the world has changed, and bold, contemporary, new work can begin to redress this balance. We are thrilled to be able to commission Laura and Laura to complete this important work and, in doing so, amplify the many voices who still need to be heard.’
In 2016, before both the pandemic and the #MeToo movement, composer Laura Bowler undertook a residency at Britten Pears Arts, exploring how, in a society where 1 in 5 women has been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult, a contemporary opera might approach the subject of violence against women. At the 2019 Aix-en-Provence Festival, Laura Bowler met Katie Mitchell and invited her to direct the piece, who in turn suggested working with Laura Lomas to develop the commission and write the libretto.
Laura Lomas explains: ‘Throughout the process, Laura and I maintained an open dialogue, sharing research and ideas as well as early sections of text and composition. This felt necessary to ensure that the conceptual ideas of the work were held by both the libretto and the music.’
Laura Bowler adds: ‘Four ever-present on-stage cellists support and distort the landscape of the four vocalists. The score pivots between propulsion and stasis as the percussion and electronics seek to destabilise and overwhelm the journey of The Blue Woman.’
The creative team – including conductors Jessica Cottis and Jamie Man, costume and set designer, Lizzie Clachan, sound designer, Matthew Fairclough, lighting designer James Farncombe and video director Grant Gee – have worked closely with Laura, Laura and Katie to ensure the creation of a production that not only functions aesthetically but compliments the live and electronic musical aspects of the composition.
The Blue Woman is on stage at the Royal Opera House from Wednesday 6 July – Saturday 11 July 2022. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit The Blue Woman (roh.org.uk).