MOP Commissioned Pieces 2017

philip venables


Philip Venables

laura bowler

Laura Bowler


allis ni riain

Allis Ni Riain


michael rose

Michael Rose


tom jenks

Tom Jenks


Our MOP Commissions for this year focus on the form of Monodrama, an extended musical monologue of 15-20 minutes each to be performed by one singer. It is, in other words, a mini opera for one. 


This was the brief as given to our commissioned composers; Laura Jayne Bowler/Philip Venables, Ailís Ní Ríain and Michael Rose and  our commissioned librettist, poet Tom Jenks. The results have been wildly and thrillingly different. 


Manchester based composer/singer Laura Jayne Bowler and London based composer Philip Venables are collaborating on Laura Sings (Oklahoma) a monodrama focusing on the internal journey of a rape victim as she processes the after effects of what she has experienced. It will include verbatim texts from rape survivors and, according to Venables “other bits of found text, including excerpts of children’s books, a bit of the Valerie Solanas SCUM manifesto”


Venables’ musical works frequently explore the issue of violence and yet his compositional style is often one of sparse clarity that allows the listener room to absorb the text fully.  It is intensely thoughtful music that seeks to illuminate rather than manipulate. Laura Jayne Bowler, who will be performing the piece,  brings a passionate no holds barred approach to her interpretations that should make a great partnership with Venables clear style.


The piece will be performed by Laura Jayne Bowler accompanied by electronic backing.


Laura Sings (Oklahoma) is co-commissioned by Size Zero Opera Made possible with the generous support of Arts Council England & the PRS Composer’s Fund.

The premiere performance will take place on
Thursday July 27, 2017 at Halle St Peter’s, Ancoats.  Performance start time will be 8:30



Manchester based composer Ailís Ní Ríain’s monodrama, Break Down De Doom, uses as its text, by special permission, excerpts from The Invention of Tragedy by experimental American playwright Mac Wellman. Mr Wellman is known for his use of unconventional dramatic form, often abandoning the notion of plot and character in favour of an abstract collage approach to narrative expression.


Ní Ríain, is a composer who creates pieces of abstract beauty that often touch on very current human issues in a subtle, delicate manner. Her attention is to small movements of thought or feeling with a deeply compassionate approach.


Break Down De Doom should prove to be a unique partnership of Wellman’s method of word collage combined with Ni Riain’s keen observation for tiny moments that can run very large in the human psyche.


The piece will be performed by mezzo soprano Jennifer Parker accompanied by violin, viola, cello and flute .  

The premiere performance will take place on
Thursday July 27, 2017 at Halle St Peter’s, Ancoats.  Performance start time will be 8:30



New York based composer Michael Rose’s monodrama In the Time When Animals Were Men takes its text from Hari Kunzru’s novel Gods with Men which begins with a fable about a Coyote who cooks meth in the desert and causes an explosion. Michael Rose has a rich compositional style that manages to create atonal melodic lines of lush beauty, setting them in a full- bodied harmonic language that harkens to his early interest in jazz.  It is a musical language that is perfect to set a fable and we are eagerly anticipating the results.


In the Time When Animals Were Men will be performed by tenor Timothy Langston accompanied by viola, trumpet, bass clarinet, harp and percussion.

The premiere performance will take place on

July 27, 2017 at Halle St Peter’s, Ancoats.  Performance start time will be 8:30


Lastly, we have our commissioned libretto, Crabtree (the libretto) by the poet Tom JenksCrabtree (the libretto) follows on from Crabtree (Red Ceilings Press, 2014) described by poet Chris McCabe as “a thumbnail guide to a very contemporary England: we never drive far through these umbrous hills before coming to a Travelodge. As the audience delights in the frolics, Jenks, Albion’s greatest surrealist, is found finetuning his metrical gifts” In Crabtree (the libretto), Crabtree finds himself alone at a kitchen table where there is possibly a bear.


The premiere reading will take place on
Thursday August 3, 2017 at the King’s Arms Pub in Salford.  Performance start time will be 8:00.

Crabtree (the libretto) along with a limited edition second printing of Crabtree will be available for sale on the night and on the Red Ceilings Press website.

mop | | |

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle