This first McCaldin Arts project was a collaboration with opera director Joe Austin, transforming a work commissioned for the concert platform into a version for the dramatic stage. The original A Voice of One Delight is a 25-minute scena by Stephen McNeff, written for mezzo with flute, harp and viola, and it is this version that will appear on a CD of Stephen’s music that I will be recording with the Nova Music Ensemble for Champs Hill Records in October 2012.
In it, sung settings of lyric poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley are interleaved with a spoken text narrating the circumstances of his death, taken from the writings of a friend, Edward John Trelawny.
The version for the stage makes a number of changes: solo piano accompaniment played by Elizabeth Burgess is supported by a soundtrack designed by Steve Mayo.The sung sections remain as originally written, but the spoken text has also been revised to tell the story from a wider range of viewpoints. The writings of Shelley himself, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Trelawny, Leigh Hunt and Edward Williams all provided material for the final version.
Production design is by Simon Kenny, with audio-visual design by Adam Young and movement by Petra Söör. Photos by Claire Shovelton.
A Voice of One Delight was originally commissioned for me by the Presteigne Festival and was premiered there as a concert piece on 29 August 2010. A second performance was given in the Royal Opera House Crush Room on 20 December 2010.
The first performances of the staged version took place on 16 and 17 August 2012 as part of Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival. I am grateful to the Arts Council of England for funding the transformation to into a staged work.