Emily

Emily

2013

Words
Anthony Peter and Tim Benjamin
Composer / Director
Tim Benjamin
Designer
Lara Booth
Music Director
Antony Brannick

“Concerning the Suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison, who died in June 1913 while protesting at Epsom, under the hoofs of the King’s horse...”

Told almost entirely through painstakingly-researched archive material including newspaper articles, Hansard, and private letters, Emily tells the harrowing story of Emily Davison's particular dedication and unique sacrifice to the Suffragette cause.

Alongside a cast of brilliant young professional singers, Radius Opera's production Emily transformed volunteer amateur singers into an army of Suffragettes, singing as the opera's chorus, and memorably taking on their fellow volunteer Policemen in a dramatic on-stage riot.

“No surrender...”

The opera begins with one of the consequences of Emily Davison's sacrifice and the Suffragette movement, the vote on the Representation Of The People Act, 1918, which finally emancipated women.

Emily then travels back in time, to show some of the protests in which Emily Davison took part, beginning with the occupation of a broom cupboard in the House of Commons on the night of the Census, and her deliberate arrest: meaning that a woman would be forever recorded dwelling in the House on that night.

Following a harrowing scene of force-feeding (juxtaposed with a dialogue between establishment figures - shocking, today), the first Act comes to a close with a re-enactment of the "Black Friday" riots outside Parliament, in which numerous Suffragettes were brutalised by the Police, apparently under the orders of the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill.

Act 2 begins with an autopsy and dismemberment of Emily Davison's body, carried out by a Doctor who then reappears for the bulk of Act 2, which takes place at the Epsom Derby, and provides an account of everyday life in 1913, and common views of women in general and the Suffragettes in particular. Constructed in large part from newspaper columns and adverts, the Doctor sells "Fat Cure", aided by an attractive model. Of course, the main excitement is the race itself, and the tragic events which unfolded therein.

Finally, we see Emily's body lying in a hospital bed, and after hearing some of the hate-mail which was sent to her there, we hear the moving last letter written to her by her mother - a letter which Emily, then in a coma, never saw.

The opera concludes, movingly and fittingly, with a General Election, in which both men and women cast their votes - accompanied by the ghost of Emily, who sings the words of a short poem by Davison herself.

Download the world premiere programme (PDF)

“It brought the house down ... a tribute to the composer and the utterly convincing singers”
Seen and Heard

Volunteer Army

One of the unique aspects of Radius Opera's Emily production was the presence of a small army of volunteer amateurs, singing and acting alongside the professional cast of soloists. Deserving a special mention, they were:

  • Jo Gerrard orderly, prison wardress, Suffragette
  • Emma Stafford orderly, prison wardress, Suffragette
  • Lucy Anderson race-goer, Suffragette
  • Valerie Dunlop race-goer, Suffragette
  • Frances M. Durning race-goer, Policeman
  • Richard Holley hawker, policeman
  • Maureen Ludlam race-goer, Suffragette
  • Darren Midgley race-goer, Policeman
  • Dawn-Marie Nicholls race-goer, Suffragette
  • Janet Peter race-goer, Suffragette
  • Barbara Pomfret race-goer, Suffragette
  • Niall Roche race-goer, Policeman
  • Sheila Urquhart race-goer, Suffragette
  • Sam Whittaker race-goer, Suffragette
Some of Suffragettes rehearsing for Emily (2013)
Pictured: Some of Suffragettes rehearsing for Emily. Read more about taking part in a Radius Opera production

“A gorgeous crescendo and a powerful epilogue ... They have created quite a feat”
Northern Soul

“An enchanting visual spectacle, with incredible voices and haunting, hypnotic music ... it even managed to get me to rethink opera”
Todmorden News

Performers

  • Stephanie Stanway
    Stephanie Stanway

    Emily

  • Marc Callahan
    Marc Callahan

    The Doctor

    Marc Callahan

    Marc Callahan, bass-baritone, trained at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Ecole Normale de Musique, and the Scola Cantorum. He was winner of the Prix Lili Boulanger at the Concours International d’Interprétation de la Mélodie Française, and apprenticed with the Central City Opera (where he was awarded the Studio Artist Award), Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Britten-Pears Academy and the Centre National d’Insertion Professionelle des Artistes Lyriques.

    Marc Callahan’s performance career has taken him around the world, singing at opera houses such as: The Royal Opera House, Santa Fe Opera, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Théâtre du Capitole, Opéra National de Lyon, Opéra de Montpellier, Opéra Comique, Théâtre Royale de Versailles, Opéra de Marseille, Central City Opera, Dayton Opera, the Ohio Light Opera and Opera North (UK), among others.

    As an opera director, Dr. Callahan has received critical acclaim for his production of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes, and has also assisted on Martin Duncan’s productions at the Royal Opera House, the Aldeburgh Festival and the Holland Festival.

    “The cast [of Madame X] gave consistently strong performances ... Callahan providing wickedly glamorous tone”
    Opera Magazine

  • Meinir Wyn Roberts
    Meinir Wyn Roberts

    A Woman

  • Louis Hurst
    Louis Hurst

    The Policeman

  • Sebastian Charlesworth
    Sebastian Charlesworth

    The Judge

  • Christopher Jacklin
    Christopher Jacklin

    The Politician

  • James Claxton
    James Claxton

    The Reporter

Violin 1, leader
Joy Hunter
Violin 2
Jonathan Whitehead
Viola
Robin Pennie
Violoncello
David Leys
Contrabass
Anne Bulman
Flute
Lynda Robertson
Clarinet
Rachael Gibbon
Bass clarinet
Peter Rogers
Cornet
Matthew Murray
Tenor horn
Richard Sutcliffe
Harp
Maxine Molin Rose
Piano
Jenny Sheldon
Percussion
Rhianon A. Harding
Stage manager
David Winslow
Construction
Mark Fielden
Assistant design engineer
Peter Uren
Deputy stage manager
Anjali Vyas-Brannick
ASM flies
Aysa Goldthorpe
House manager
Carolyn Hall
Lighting
Tom Sutcliffe
Wardrobe supervisor
Sarah Hoggatt
Stage team
Dave Heaton, Dave Badrick, James Greenwood
Wardrobe assistants
Natasha Broxton, Katie Crooks, Paulina Ruhanin, Chloe Winn
Props supervisors
Sasha Mattock, Nathan Mattock

Performances

RNCM Studio Theatre, Manchester
March 2012 (Prologue and Scene 1 only)
Hippodrome, Todmorden
4th–6th July 2013