Melanie Challenger (E)
0.2(I,II=bcl).0.0-0.1.1.0-perc(1):marimba/crot/mark tree/tamb/5tpl.bl/2wdbl/2congas/2bongos/SD/pedal BD/hi-hat/lg susp.cym/tam-t-synth-22.214.171.124.1
4 solo voices:
Pre-recorded TTBB chorus
Howard Assembly Room, Leeds
Tim Albery, director
Conductor: Nicholas Kok
Company: Opera North, Psappha
The title of the opera doubles as the name of a hedonistic gay club in an unnamed city in the north of England, where men come to express their instincts and desires. Its presiding spirit is an ageing, cynical drag queen, with a Bacchanalian skill for intoxicating and exciting the clubbers. At its heart is the resident toilet attendant, who has worked the club for decades. She has acted as a confession to the clubbers through their ups and downs. She is much-loved but viewed as an enigma. Why is she still there? Why does she never leave? The opera takes this question as its central drama. When a young man, both beautiful and unpredictable, leaves a gift for Val, it marks the start of a wild and violent night.
"...the perfect operatic subject: squalid and earthbound yet imbued with a radiant, almost mythic quality… At the start of what one hopes will be a long operatic career, Simpson has pulled off a genuine coup."
"...a scenario which is essentially disturbing and, for two of the four characters, ultimately tragic… Psappha brought out the great variety of colours and textures in Simpson’s brilliant score. Pleasure makes a powerful impact…"
"Simpson’s self-confessed aim is that his music should supply those qualities of intimacy, beauty, warmth, pain and suffering that he sees lacking in much contemporary opera. He does this with skill, variety and strong dramatic impulse… it has the makings of a hit."