Autumn 2014 | August - October 2014
Music by Rutland Boughton. Libretto by 'Fiona Macleod' (William Sharp)
The centenary production and the first London production for more than 50 years
“A work of genius” - Edward Elgar
“In any other country, such a work as 'The Immortal Hour' would have been in the repertoire years ago” - Ralph Vaughan Williams
Celebrating the exact centenary of its first performance at the inaugural Glastonbury Festival on 26 August 1914, Rutland Boughton’s record-breaking 'music-drama' The Immortal Hour, plays at the Finborough Theatre for a limited nine performance run of Sunday and Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances.
As befits the Finborough Theatre's location on one of London's major ley lines, The Immortal Hour is a magical faery tale that draws heavily from Celtic folklore and mythology.
Eochaidh, King of Éire, is drawn by visions to seek the love of the immortal Faery Folk, but in doing so inadvertently summons Dalua, the Lord of Shadows. Dalua uses his dark powers to bewilder Eochaidh and send him down a path that few return from...with tragic consequences.
Combining Wagnerian approaches to musical themes with a folk-like approach to the music itself, reminiscent of its Celtic roots, The Immortal Hour explores fate, desire and mortality in two worlds, as the unrequited love between the mortal world and the immortal Faeries collide.
Following its premiere at the first Glastonbury Festival (which Boughton co-founded), The Immortal Hour was produced in London in 1922 where it enjoyed a record breaking run of over 600 performances. Last seen in London at Sadler's Wells in 1953, it still holds the world-record for a continuous run of any serious opera written by an Englishman.
In a month that also marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this production – which restores the piece to its theatrical roots – offers a unique opportunity to experience the musical culture of England as it was in the month that the nation went to war.
Composer Rutland Boughton (1878-1960) was one of the most prolific English composers of the 20th century – and was also well known for organising music festivals at Glastonbury, Stroud, Ross-on-Wye and Bath, and for his left wing political views. He studied at the Royal College of Music. His many other works include the operas Bethlehem, The Round Table, The Ever Young, The Lily Maid, Galahad, Avalon, The Queen of Cornwall and Alkestis, the ballets Death Dance of Grania, Snow White, The Death of Columbine and May Day, and many other orchestral concertos and musical poems. www.rutlandboughtonmusictrust.org.uk
Librettist Fiona Macleod was the pseudonym of Scottish author William Sharp (1855-1905), well known for his literary biographies of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Rossetti, Browning and Joseph Severn. Sharp used the Fiona Macleod pseudonym to write in a more whimsical and fantastical style as befitted his membership of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism. Born in Paisley and studied at Glasgow University, Sharp was friends with many of the leading literary figures of his day including Rossetti and Swinburne, although his relationship with some writers – most notably W.B. Yeats – was often tumultuous as many were dismissive of Sharp’s writing, but commended Macleod’s. The opera libretto was based on Sharp's 1908 play of the same name.
Director Benji Sperring recently directed the professional world premiere of Ivor Novello’s Valley of Song at the Finborough Theatre. Directing includes Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Prima Donna (Old Red Lion Theatre), Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blind and The Intruder (Old Red Lion Theatre and Tabard Theatre) which received an OffWestEnd Award nomination for Best Design, Assassins (Palace Theatre, Manchester), Sweet Charity (King's Theatre, Southsea), The Monk (Barons Court Theatre), Fun Like Stalingrad (Hen and Chickens Theatre), Six Characters In Search Of An Author and Under Milk Wood (Caccia Studio, Eton), Find Me (David Russell Theatre, Portsmouth, and Woking Festival), Little Shop of Horrors (Dance House Theatre, Manchester), In Camera and Party Time (John Thaw Studio Theatre, Manchester).
In 2006, the Finborough Theatre began the Celebrating British Music Theatre series with a sell-out production of Leslie Stuart’s Florodora. Productions since then have included sell-out rediscoveries of Lionel Monckton’s Our Miss Gibbs, Harold Fraser-Simson’s operetta The Maid of the Mountains, A "Gilbert and Sullivan" Double Bill featuring Gilbert’s play Sweethearts and Sullivan’s opera The Zoo, Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Sandy Wilson’s The Buccaneer, Oscar Asche’s Chu Chin Chow, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream, Gay's The Word and Valley of Song, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke, Edward German's Merrie England and Paul Scott Goodman's Rooms: A Rock Romance.
THEGREATWAR100 series is a new occasional series of works about – or written during – the Great War to be presented by the Finborough Theatre from 2014 to 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The Immortal Hour will run concurrently with Rolf Hochhuth's epic retelling of the outbreak of the First World War, Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death.
“Three cheers for the Finborough Theatre for bringing us Valley of Song, a charming piece of Welsh whimsy...if there is any justice in the world this deftly directed and magnificently performed production should be snapped up by theatres far and wide.” Classical Music Magazine on Valley of Song
"Yet arriving at the ideal juncture of the Great War commemorations, [Benji Sperring's] premiere puts the case commendably well for an old-fashioned show that’s hugely nostalgic." Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph on Valley of Song
“This is why we must thank director Benji Sperring...for bringing life to this otherwise forgotten musical. It’s not every day you get to experience the professional premiere of a show from someone of Novello’s reputation and calibre.” Musical Theatre Review on Valley of Song
“Benji Sperring's imaginative production.” UK Theatre Network on Valley of Song
“It is the images I shall remember from Benji Sperring's production… a fascinating collector’s item.” Michael Billington, The Guardian on The Blind and The Intruder
“Benji Sperring’s orchestration of both the stage space and the evocative soundscape is jam packed with expressionistic meaning.” Honour Bayes, The Stage on The Blind and The Intruder
Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm.
Tuesday Matinees at 2.00pm.
Performance Length: Approximately 2 hours with an interval.
Tickets £18, £16 concessions
For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here
PLEASE NOTE THAT LATECOMERS CANNOT BE ADMITTED AND TICKETS CANNOT BE EXCHANGED OR REFUNDED.