Forgotten treasure: A suffragette opera will be performed at Glyndebourne for the first time in 80 years

The Wreckers drew comparisons with the British composer, Benjamin Britten’s last opera, Pierre Grimes. As a result of Britten’s compelling post-war narrative, who later took over musical composition direction, it has been suggested that the pre-war period, of which Smyth was a part, is often easily overlooked. in the history of English opera.

Directed by Melly Still, this production of The Wreckers will be the first major professional staging of the opera in over 80 years, and the first opportunity to hear the work as Smyth envisioned it, complete with its original French libretto. Glyndebourne Music Director Robin Ticciati will lead the performance.

Lady Ethel Mary Smyth


Ambitious and saturated with vitality, The Wreckers is a three-part opera described by Smyth as “the work by which I stand and fall”. Set on the wild and romantic Cornish coast, the psychological drama ‘Shipwreck, Religion and Love’ follows the plot of a passionate love affair and the precarious life of the desperate inhabitants of a fishing village.

Director Still concludes that: “Smyth used the Cornish people as a symbol of Britain as a microcosm, as that isolated community which assumed a moral hierarchy in its way of life and the dogma attached to its religion. She comments on it because, according to her, she was an outsider because of her eccentricities, gender, and sexuality. She was interested in the way in which the individual is opposed to a community”.

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