Surrey Opera staged the World Première of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s long-thought lost opera Thelma at The Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon, where the composer lived and worked for his entire life, as part of a year-long Festival in the Centenary year of his death.
Coleridge-Taylor, a prolific choral and Orchestral composer, is probably best remembered for his major choral trilogy The Song of Hiawatha, performed annually for many years at the Royal Albert Hall and rivalling only Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah in the public’s affections.
Thelma, a poetical setting of a Norse legend, is a thrilling saga of deceit, magic, retribution and the triumph of love over evil. With a score rich in melody and musical invention, plus Coleridge-Taylor’s brilliant trademark orchestrations, Thelma might indeed supersede Hiawatha in popularity! The opera was the result of three years intense composition, but did not reach the stage, most probably due to Coleridge-Taylor’s untimely death at the age of 37.
Surrey Opera now set the record straight in a new performing edition by Stephen Anthony Brown, with libretto edited by the opera’s Director Christopher Cowell and design by Bridget Kimak. Surrey Opera’s Artistic Director Jonathan Butcher conducted professional soloists and orchestra with the Surrey Opera chorus.
Photographer: Peter Marr
|Stephen Anthony Brown