barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Nova Music Opera: Prometheus Drown’d/Airborne

Saturday 1 November 7.30pm

Nova Music Opera

Stephen McNeff Prometheus Drown’d

Cecilia McDowall Airborne

United by a common theme of misadventure, but distinct enough to engage and excite on many levels, this pair of new chamber operas make perfect performing partners. Prometheus Drown’d, Stephen McNeff’s reworking of an earlier commission from the Presteigne Festival, is a chilling exploration of the strange circumstances surrounding the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1822 at Livorno in Tuscany. Richard Williams has reworked the libretto from contemporary sources, using journals, diaries and incorporates a number of Shelley’s own writings. In Airborne, we move forward in history to World War I, where we meet Johnny, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, and Alice, a nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. The opera reflects their parallel experiences on 1 July 1916, allowing them to interact and sing and dance together as their minds go back to the high spots of their deepening love affair; both anticipate and then witness the huge debacle that was the Battle of the Somme.

Prometheus Drown’d

Stephen McNeff composer

Richard Williams librettist and director

George Vass conductor

Clare McCaldin Jane | Christopher Good Trelawney

Nova Music Ensemble



Cecilia McDowall composer

Andy Rashleigh librettist

Richard Williams director 

George Vass conductor

Donna Lennard Alice | Henry Manning Johnny

Nova Music Ensemble

Airborne is a joint-commission between Nova Music and the Presteigne Festival, supported by the RVW Trust and the Arts Council of Wales.

To hear and read more about these operas, visit the Nova Music website.

Presteigne Festival Tour

24 October 2014 1.10pm

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Saturday 31 May, 11am - 4pm (5pm Winterbourne)

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Lunchtime Concerts

Fridays at 1.10pm, Barber Concert Hall

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Department of Music

Theory and Practice in Harmony

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