Jane Eyre the Opera to premiere in Birmingham

World exclusive to be recorded live.

From its first publication in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece Jane Eyre has inspired innumerable theatrical interpretations for both stage and screen. To mark the 200th anniversary of Brontë’s birth in 2016, and in anticipation of British composer John Joubert’s 90th birthday in 2017, Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra will premiere Joubert’s opera based on Brontë’s first and most popular novel.

Jane Eyre will receive its world premiere in a concert performance on 25 October 2016, at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre in Birmingham. The SOMM label will be on hand to capture a live recording which is scheduled to be released in March 2017 to coincide with Joubert’s birthday.

Joubert’s Jane Eyre has been over two decades in the making, yet the seeds were sown as far back as 1969,
when the composer penned his song-cycle Six Poems Of Emily Brontë. He became drawn into the world of the Brontësisters and, perhaps inevitably, Jane Eyre. The result is a major operatic work with “a score of translucent beauty – Joubert’s undoubted magnum opus,” comments conductor Kenneth Woods.

For the premiere, soprano April Fredrick will portray the title character and baritone David Stout – who previously collaborated with Woods on a SOMM recording of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen – will take on the role of Rochester. They will be joined by a full supporting cast. The librettist is Kenneth Birkin, a post-graduate student of Joubert’s at Birmingham University whose Ph.D. focused on the libretti of Strauss’s post-Hofmannsthal operas.

Siva Oke says, “I first heard John Joubert’s music 1ten years ago when pianist Mark Bebbington played his Lyric Fantasy based on themes from the love scene between Jane and Rochester in Act 2 of Jane Eyre. I was stunned by the beauty and lyricism of the music. When we recorded it, as part of John’s 80th birthday celebrations, Christopher Morley described it in his liner notes as luminous and radiant and I couldn’t agree more.”

Kenneth Woods is among the most literary minded of conductors. He completed his first novel at the age of 13, and has always had a passion for opera’s mixture of word, movement and music. While a student at the Cincinnati Conservatory, the Cincinnati Enquirer praised his operatic debut in Britten’s Albert Herring – which was chosen by Opera USA as Best Conservatory Opera Performance of the Year in 1997 – “Kenneth Woods was alert, efficient and confident, staying with the singers unflaggingly … the thirteen piece orchestra created a sense of atmosphere between scene changes and punctuated the text colorfully.” Woods’ other notable opera credits include an award-winning production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Bizet’s Carmen and Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore. He is a respected authority on the operas of Wagner and Richard Strauss.

Jane Eyre is the English Symphony Orchestra’s first foray into a full opera, a notable sign of the orchestra’s ascendance under Kenneth Woods’ leadership. With this project, Woods and the ESO notch up another major world premiere achievement. The past year alone has seen critically acclaimed performances and chart-topping releases of Elgar’s Piano Quintet andSea Pictures in new arrangements by Donald Fraser (AVIE Records), and the first of two volumes of Piano Concertos by Ernst Krenek (Toccata Classics), which join previous premieres of works by John McCabe, Deborah Pritchard and Philip Sawyers.

For further details and ticket information please visit http://www.ruddockpac.co.uk