A Buxton International Festival production.
Death was never going to confine the force of nature that was Ethel Smyth to obscurity for long. A trailblazing composer, conductor and feminist; she was a breaker of windows for the suffragettes, and a breaker of glass ceilings for women musicians of the Victorian era. During her life she met discrimination towards her work with defiance. She became the first woman to have an opera performed at the New York Met, she was the first woman composer to become a Dame, and in 2021 she was posthumously awarded her first Grammy.
Given that the tune for the suffragette’s anthem March of the Women is in the overture, it is perhaps unsurprising that The Boatswain’s Mate is often considered Smyth’s most ‘feminist’ opera. There’s also speculation that the protagonist is based on her great friend Emmeline Pankhurst.
The Boatswain’s Mate is a battle of the sexes, that centres on the feisty Mrs Waters, a widowed landlady who has no desire to remarry. When one of her suitors, an ex-boatswain, attempts to ludicrously win her hand by concocting a fake robbery, she retaliates with aplomb. Smoking gun in hand, she proves she has no need for a knight in shining armour, but also perhaps that she’s not completely hardened to the idea of love.
Nick Bond directs, following his successes with Jonathan Dove’s The Enchanted Pig (2021) and assistant-directing La sonnambula (2023). The cast is led by soprano Elizabeth Findon and tenor Joshua Baxter. Rebecca Warren directs the Buxton Chamber Collective from the piano.
Music and libretto by Ethel Smyth, based on a story of the same name by W W Jacobs.
Elizabeth Findon Mrs Waters
Joshua Baxter Harry Benn
Theo Perry Ned Travers
Richard Woodall Policeman
Rebecca Anderson Mary Ann
Rebecca Warren Musical Direction from the Piano
Nick Bond Director
Public Booking opens on Tuesday 2 April 2024 at 10am.
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- 5 March 2024, 10am: Priority booking opens for Director’s Circle, Benefactor and Gold Patrons.
- 12 March 2024, 10am: Priority booking opens for Patrons.
- 19 March 2024, 10am: Priority booking opens for Gold Friends.
- 26 March 2024, 10am: Priority booking opens for Friends of Buxton International Festival.
- Tuesday 2 April 2024, 10am: Public booking opens!
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