Opera Scotland

Flight

Music
Jonathan Dove (born London, 18 July 1959)

Text
April De Angelis.

Source
Original.

Premières
First performance: Glyndebourne, 24 September 1998.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (New Athenaeum Theatre), 24 June 2006.
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 17 February 2018.

Background
Jonathan Dove has had a successful career producing a series of operas for children, and more for community performance. He also produced successful performing editions of a number of important operas to allow them to be performed in a more intimate style, including Wagner’s Ring reduced to two evenings instead of four. Commissioned by Glyndebourne, Flight was premièred by the touring company and was immediately recognised as a very rare thing indeed – a successful new comic opera. It was quickly filmed for television and recorded for CD, before having a series of performances at the Glyndebourne Festival proper.

Characters
Refugee (counter-tenor)
Controller (soprano)
Bill (tenor)
Tina, his wife (soprano)
Older Woman (mezzo-soprano)
Stewardess (mezzo-soprano)
Steward (baritone)
Minskman (bass-baritone)
Minskwoman (mezzo-soprano)
Immigration Officer (bass-baritone)

Plot Summary
The opera covers two days and the intervening night in an airport. At dawn the airport is empty apart from a refugee who has been marooned there, illegally, for some time. He possesses a stone which he claims to have magic powers to provide comfort. Various people arrive, passengers and crew, and the tensions in their lives and their reasons for travelling are made clear. The Minskwoman, who is pregnant, is afraid to fly, and her husband leaves her behind. The controller announces that because of a severe electrical storm, all flights are grounded. During the night, people try to sleep. The passengers are all fascinated by the refugee and approach him one at a time to talk. He gives them each a stone, which is not unique after all. The women gradually get drunk, and their conversation becomes less controlled until they discover they have all been given ‘magic’ stones. Bill, whose marriage to Tina is under some strain, goes off to look for the stewardess, but ends up by going upstairs with the steward, who seems to suit him just as well. The storm rages outside more fiercely. By dawn, the weather is a lot calmer, and flights resume. The Minskman returns, unable to abandon his wife after all. As the passengers and crew go their different ways, certain unexpected truths are revealed.

RECORDINGS

CHANDOS (2 CDs) Sung in English Recorded 1999

Conductor: David Parry
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Christopher Robson (Refugee), Claron McFadden (Controller), Richard Coxon (Bill), Mary Plazas (Tina), Nuala Willis (Older Woman), Ann Taylor (Stewardess), Garry Magee (Steward), Steven Page (Minskman), Anne Mason (Minskwoman), Richard Van Allan (Immigration Officer).

The premiere cast of an opera is always worth hearing, and these artists created their parts at Glyndebourne before taking it on tour. It was also filmed for TV. The exception to the above is the orchestra, since the LPO is the resident band at Glyndebourne, but does not do the tour, and only played in performance when the piece was revived at the festival proper with a slightly different cast. Most of the singers get their words across clearly.

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