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.
Commissioned opera for Welsh National Opera’s ‘Max’ Programme, working with composer Stephen Deazley.
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’.
Written in 2003 for George McPhee’s 40th anniversary as Director of Music at Paisley Abbey in Scotland, this piece sets the first of a trilogy of nativity poems by Michael Symmons Roberts.
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.
Sun-Dogs is a setting of a poem by Michael Symmons Roberts. The text is richly allegorical, iconographic with a deep well of symbolism. The metaphors are complex, evoking a range of emotions and images, dark and terrifying one minute, radiant and ecstatic the next.
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.
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.
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.
A song cycle with James MacMillan, premiered at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Since performed in France, Spain, Canada, Australia, America. Broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Released on CD in 2002.