Awakening Shadow

A chamber opera by Benjamin Britten and Luke Styles


Donna Lennard soprano
Ralph Thomas Williams countertenor
Christopher Bowen and Bradley Smith tenor
Felix Kemp baritone

Nova Music Ensemble
Sophie Mather violin
Alexei Watkins horn
Rachel Wick harp
Timothy End piano

For Nova Music Opera
George Vass artistic director/conductor
Richard Williams director
Timothy End repetiteur

The world premiere of a dramatic new chamber opera fusing original scenes by operatic composer Luke Styles with a complete performance of Benjamin Britten’s revered five Canticles. Themes of light and darkness emerge in the music as it illuminates the highly dramatic subject matter – religious faith, sacrifice, birth, death and humanity itself. Brought to the stage by director Richard Williams and with an outstanding young cast, Styles’ use of biblical texts (Old and New Testament) and fragments of poetry by Byron and Shelley extend Britten’s themes still further, bringing a sense of ritual and providing a pathway towards a humanist outlook on the world.

Awakening Shadow is a co-commission from the Cheltenham and Presteigne festivals and a co-production between the Nova Music Trust and the Cheltenham and Presteigne festivals.

Find out more about the Luke Styles and Nova Music Opera.


Cheltenham Ladies' College, Parabola Arts Centre

Parabola Arts Centre is located in a Grade II listed building in the glamorous Montpellier district of Cheltenham. The centre was built as a facility for students of Cheltenham Ladies’ College and to be used as a public arts centre by the local community.

The original, listed Bayshill House was transformed into a gallery, bar and foyer area. The villa also houses all the rehearsal spaces, offices, video editing suite, dance studio and library. This means that the regular activity of the building takes place in the light, beautifully restored listed building.

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