Michael’s continuing collaboration with composer James MacMillan has led to two BBC Proms choral commissions, song cycles, music theatre works and operas for the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Welsh National Opera.
Clemency – in collaboration with composer James MacMillan – was premiered at the Royal Opera House in London in May 2011. Co-commissioned by the Royal Opera House, Britten Sinfonia, Scottish Opera and Boston Lyric Opera, it sold out its first run at the ROH. The first production was directed by Katie Mitchell, and designed by Alex Eales. The conductor was Clark Rundell.READ MORE
The Sacrifice is an opera in three acts composed by James MacMillan with a libretto by the poet Michael Symmons Roberts based on the Branwen story of the Welsh myth collection, the Mabinogion. The world premiere took place on 22 September 2007 at the Donald Gordon Theatre of the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. The production was staged by Welsh National Opera, directed by Katie Mitchell and conducted by the composer.READ MORE
Co-commissioned by the BBC Proms and the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus, with the Hilliard Ensemble and the Westminster Cathedral Choir, Quickening sets poetry by Michael Symmons Roberts exploring themes of birth, new life and new impulses. The work’s three-fold vocal layers juxtapose mysticism and hyper-realism, painting a canvas at one turn intimate and private, at the next epic and celebratory.READ MORE
New English translations of the poems in Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’, performed by Mark Padmore. Commissioned by Aldeburgh Festival, London’s South Bank Centre and the Lincoln Centre, New York. These new translations were performed in 2009 as part of a production devised and directed by Katie Mitchell, under the title ‘One Evening’.READ MORE
This is a through-composed work comprising four sections and lasting about twenty five minutes. The final section is a coda involving a choir and the text is a poem with the same title by Michael Symmons Roberts. The piece is essentially abstract, but was inspired by a myth from the Mabinogian (a collection of ancient Welsh stories). The Birds of Rhiannon are mystical, angelic presences which appear and sing on the death of Bran – a Fisher King-type figure who sacrifices his life (he is beheaded) for the sake of peace between two warring peoples. In essence the work could be described as being a dramatic concerto for orchestra with a mystical coda for choir.READ MORE
A chamber opera with James MacMillan, a commission by the Britten Sinfonia and Cambridge University. Performed at 2001 Edinburgh Festival, and in Spain and Italy. Broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Re-staged in a new production directed by Katie Mitchell at the Royal Opera House in 2009.READ MORE