Il Letto (The Bed) is a plaria co-production between Helios Collective, Buxton Festival, and Copenhagen Opera Festival.
It is where we give birth,
It is where we would like to die.
It where we make love,
It is where we lie next,
(to each other).
Each day we make it,
Leave and come back again.
The infinite variation in repetition.
We pray at its feet when we feel our pain.
Il Letto, our consoler.
The house of our nights,
Where we sleep our lives.
Wives and Heroines and Muses
Elvira Bonturi – wife of the celebrated composer Giacomo Puccini – prays at the foot of her bed, trying to hold back a rage that no woman could be expected to bear.
Rage when she realises that every aria Giacomo ever composed was about a woman he was having an affair with.
Rage when she realises that her personal maid has been humiliating her in her own home.
Rage when she realises that none of Giacomo’s lauded and most beautiful music is about her.
Rage when she realises how easily she has been fooled.
Rage, rage, rage, and rage again.
Three days later, a body will lie dead.
Life in the Puccinis’ lakeside house will never be the same again.
A New Plaria
Following on from Helios Collective’s sell-out performances of Hathaway – Eight Arias For A Bardic Life at Copenhagen Opera Festival and Buxton Festival in 2016, the plaria format – a work that combines a play with opera arias – is being further developed as a means in which opera can be made more accessible and the recital-stage more dramatic. This time, Helios is utilising the form as a means in which the life and work of Puccini can be explored and rediscovered, shedding new light on the impact that Puccini’s personal life had on his compositional output.
For Puccini, the creation of each opera was a love affair, accompanied by the discovery and loss of a little garden – the term Puccini used to describe his muses. From Corinna, the young whore who Puccini fell in and out of love with while composing Madama Butterfly, to Doria Manfredi, the maid who committed suicide in Puccini’s house by taking three tablets of corrosive sublimate, Puccini’s life was full of women who were strongly linked to his operatic heroines.
Helios Collective is creating a new plaria that combines the real and imagined worlds that Puccini inhabited. The show explores the tensions between real life and opera, as well as the dangers faced when the boundary between heroines and muses becomes inextricably blurred. The story focusses on Puccini’s music and infidelities, and it is told by his wife, Elvira Bonturi, as she contemplates her life in the wake of Doria Manfredi’s suicide, having wrongly accused Doria of trying to steal Puccini away from her.
Cast and Creatives
- Ella Marchment
Ella Marchment – artistic director of Helios Collective and director of productions for Constella OperaBallet – has worked on over eighty opera and theatre productions throughout Europe and produced over one hundred events that span opera, ballet, musicals, concerts, theatre, comedy, workshops, club nights, art installations, and development programmes.
Ella’s many directing credits include Alexander Goehr’s Tryptich at Mariinsky II, an opera–ballet production of Stravinsky’s Renard, an acclaimed international tour of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songs For A Mad King, London productions of Verdi’s Macbeth and A Masked Ball, a semi-staging of Puccini’s Il Tabarro at LSO St Luke’s, acclaimed performances of Briar Kit Esme’s Hathaway – Eight Arias For A Bardic Life, Verdi’s Otello, and Charpentier’s Louise at Buxton Festival, and a sell-out West End run of An Evening With Lucian Freud, starring Cressida Bonas. Ella is also co-founder of Theatre N16, a London-based arts company that promotes new plays and opera adaptations.
Ella has been employed by numerous organisations, including the Royal Opera House, International Opera, Buxton Festival, Melos Sinfonia, and Opera Integra. She is committed to creating professional development opportunities for young and established artists, as well as to solving the problems that impact on opera’s accessibility and reach. Ella particularly enjoys presenting opera with a twist, having written and directed a play–opera adaptation of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, staged a rock opera interpretation of Puccini’s Tosca, and set up a series of opera club nights in Peckham.
In 2015 Ella became the first director to receive an International Opera Awards Foundation Bursary. Her work is currently supported by Arts Council England and The British Council Artists International Development Fund, in association with Den Jyske Opera (Danish National Opera).
- Noah Mosley
Music Director and Puccini
Noah Mosley has worked on numerous productions in England and Europe as a conductor, assistant, répétiteur, and composer. His conducting career started when he founded King’s College London Opera Company, conducting The Fairy Queen, West Side Story, Le Nozze di Figaro, and The Magic Flute.
In 2012, Noah was the praktikant at Karlsruhe Opera House, assisting Justin Brown on Tannhäuser and Gurre-Lieder. Noah has won numerous awards, including the Cameron Mackintosh Award at NSDA—conducting a production of Schaffer’s Amadeus—and the Outstanding Arrangement Award at the highly competitive 2013 ICCA in New York.
In 2013, he was conducting fellow at Dartington International Summer School, conducting the Dartington Festival Orchestra. He was also music director at Woodbrook Summer Academy, putting on two productions he had written.
Noah’s greatest love is creating new work, and with Helios Collective he has commissioned more than ten operas. He is currently composing a chamber opera called Mad King Suibhne, commissioned by Bury Court Opera.
- Christopher Hogg
Christopher Hogg is a playwright, storyteller, stand-up comedian, technologist, and librettist. Chris is currently researching his PhD in British comedy and its value to the economy at the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths. It was there in 2014 that Chris gained a distinction in his MA in Writing For Performance. He has had plays performed at the Arcola Theatre and Theatre 503, and 2017 will see his Kpop Zombie Horror Musical – Flatmates V Zombies 2 – premiere in Seoul. In 2016 Chris wrote a piece based on Chekhov for Helios Collective’s Salon Russe production at The National Portrait Gallery.