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Shadwell Opera presents immersive production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse

Thursday 28 September 2017 

Award-winning company Shadwell Opera presents immersive production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse At Hackney Showroom

The ground-breaking company broadens its commitment to bring music to the widest possible audience, with £1 ticket schemes to nearby estate and a network of grassroots ambassadors

After their powerful production of Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared at Grimeborn (“A triumph”, Opera Today), innovative award-winning company Shadwell Opera returns with Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse at Hackney Showroom.

Shadwell Opera’s recent work has been dominated by a series of hard-hitting monologues that have surprised audiences and critics with a rare level of musical and dramatic intensity.

With the double-bill Erwartung / Twice Through the Heart last year, they significantly expanded the size of the orchestra. The Lighthouse will match this increase in scale in the pit with one on stage, applying the artistic insights gained through working with one singer to a group of three.

The extraordinary challenges of interpretation offered by the work of Peter Maxwell Davies are well known to Shadwell Opera, having produced Eight Songs For A Mad King in 2015, and The Lighthouse is the most ambitious work it has tackled so far. It explores the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from the Outer Hebrides through a mixture of courtroom testimony and fantastical flashbacks. Working with designer Alex Berry, director Jack Furness and Music Director Finnegan Downie Dear will craft a multi-sensory experience that plays with the idea of theatrical immersion and suspension of disbelief. Taking the composer’s original performance suggestion of placing the horn player in the audience as a starting point, this production will further integrate Shadwell Opera’s outstanding ensemble of young soloists into the drama, continuing dialogue between pit and stage that has been at the centre of their recent work.

Shadwell Opera’s Artistic Director, Jack Furness, said:

I’m hugely excited that we are now able to produce The Lighthouse, which was one of the first operas that I was desperate to direct. The piece has always fascinated me and Music Director Finnegan Downie Dear.”

I hope that with this production we can show new audiences that opera can be strange and mysterious in ways they didn’t expect, but also show people who know the piece well some of its more radical impulses. It’s also rewarding to be returning to Hackney Showroom where we performed Erwartung/Twice Through the Heart last year, and using the fantastic venue in a completely different way.”

We’re aiming to create an experience that will stay with audiences for a long time, playing with ideas of immersion / detachment to think about how and when one gives way to the all-consuming logic of a good story. The Lighthouse marks an important point for us, for the first time in recent years presenting a piece which is already on its way to becoming a cornerstone of the repertoire. Hopefully this production will help to cement its position and pave the way for the opera to be performed more often by bigger houses.

Continuing its work to bring music and drama to the widest possible audience, and stimulate engagement beyond opera’s traditional networks, Shadwell Opera has organised workshop sessions which will explore the musical language of the opera – one tailored for Queen Mary University students, and others for pupils of two local schools, both of which have significantly above average percentages of pupils on free school meals.

Workshop attendees will be invited to the performances, and students at QMUL will have the opportunity to participate in the production by volunteering backstage and front-of-house. Through this long-term relationship and QMUL’s network of local schools, Shadwell Opera broadens its commitment to music and drama education in the area.

£1 tickets will also be promoted to residents of nearby estates, through a grassroots ambassador working with community engagement officers and the venue’s established local network.

Jack Furness:

Our central belief is that if the theatrical experience is compelling enough, anyone can enjoy opera, especially contemporary opera, which is written for people who are alive today. With this project we are really expanding our commitment to inviting new audiences to join the operatic party. It’s at the core of what we do to get new people in, to share what we do, to bring in the first-timers. Hopefully this project will set the bar high in that respect for next time.”

Directed by Jack Furness, conducted by Finnegan Downie Dear, and designed by Alex Barry, this programme features the role debuts of the exciting operatic talents Paul Curievici (Offier 1/Sandy), Owain Browne (Officer 2/Blazes) and Pauls Putnins (Officer 3/Arthur).

For more information, images and press tickets, please contact Cécile Beauvillard Burman,, 020 3077 4943

Hackney Showroom:

Friday 3rd November, 7:30pm
Saturday 4th November, 7:30pm
Saturday 11th November, 7:30pm
Sunday 12th November, 2:30 pm (matinee)

6 Flitcroft Street, London, WC2H 8DJ.
+44 (0)20 3077 4930


Company registered address:
1 Kings Avenue, London N21 3NA
Company no. 4832223 · VAT Registration no. 844008642