Jerwood Opera Open Session: Giant - Snape Maltings
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Jerwood Opera Open Session: Giant

Wednesday 14 Mar 2018 4pm

An informal showcase of Giant, a chamber opera in development. This short session will include a live performance of a few scenes and a Q&A with the composer, librettist and director.

Sarah Angliss Composer
Ross Sutherland Librettist
Sarah Fahie Director and co-deviser

Giant is based on a true story: an infamous act of betrayal, set amongst the freak shows and anatomy theatres of late 18th century London.

Charles Byrne, ‘The Irish Giant’, was considered a living wonder, a gentleman, a trophy, a performer and a monster. Among his admirers was distinguished surgeon John Hunter. Longing to understand the secrets hidden within his bones, Hunter made friends with Byrne, offering him money and medicine. Byrne realised too late that the real transaction was for his body: Hunter wished to anatomise Byrne, adding the giant’s bones to the growing museum he had built inside his home. A man of faith, Byrne was terrified by Hunter’s designs. Dying and penniless, Byrne concocted a plan to ensure his body would reach heaven intact. Meanwhile, desperate to possess the body at any cost, John Hunter made a plan of his own.

Giant is a chamber piece for four singers, two actors, four instrumentalists and the composer, who works with electronics throughout the performance, seamlessly manipulating the live voices and instruments. Instruments include viola da gamba, percussion and robotic carillon.

Developed as part of the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme Fellowships, supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation.