Posted: Friday, 30th March 2012
A PROFESSOR IN the Department of English will attend the Olivier Awards for his part in the hit opera ‘Clemency’.
Michael Symmons Roberts will join Jude Law, Kristin Scott Thomas and Benedict Cumberbatch on the guest list for the most prestigious award ceremony in Theatreland at the Royal Opera House on 15 April.
‘Clemency’, an opera by James MacMillan for which Michael wrote the libretto, has been shortlisted for Best New Opera Production.
Premiered at the Royal Opera House last May, it will be performed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival before travelling Stateside for a production wit the Boston Symphony Opera.
Michael, who is Professor of Poetry and Academic Director at Manchester Writing School says he and James decided to base the opera on a strange story from the Old Testament, in which three angels visit the elderly Abraham and Sarah, and (among other odd things) tell them that they are going to have a baby.
“It's a strange, disconcerting event, and the angels are menacing, not comforting, explains Michael. “The three figures are like angelic hit-men on their way to destroy the neighbouring cities. Abraham and Sarah try to talk them out of it, pleading for clemency for the people of those cities, but they fail.”
“From an operatic point of view, it offered great drama and poetic potential, but also lots of musical potential,” says Michael who has collaborated with James on a series of operas, choral works and songs.
Reviews of ‘Clemency’ have been excellent with the Daily Telegraph describing it as 'Subtly haunting and quietly powerful, it is a parable of God's will in the world. This is an opera which leaves a lasting effect; and the independent “a terrifically intense, focused and inspired musical work.”
A host of stars are nominated for awards including James Corden for ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller for ‘Frankenstein’, Jude Law for ‘Anna Christie,’ Kristin Scott Thomas for ‘Betrayal’ and Celia Imrie for ‘Noises Off’.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘Matilda The Musical’ leads this year’s with nominations in 10 categories.
Theatregoers can follow full coverage of the event on www.olivierawards.com, by watching live on the BBC Red Button or listening to BBC Radio 2.