The Six of Calais & Ruth

Pegasus Opera Company and Hagemann Rosenthal Associates present a double bill

Libretto and music by Philip Hagemann, directed by Cassiopeia Berkeley-Ayepong,

conducted by Avishka Edirisinghe


Pegasus Opera Company and Hagemann Rosenthal Associates presents a double bill The Six of Calais & Ruth at Susie Sainsbury Theatre, Royal Academy of Music, London, NW1 5HT. The productions will be staged on Friday 21 April 7.30pm, Saturday 22 April 7.30pm, Sunday 23 April 2pm


In November 2022 Pegasus Opera Company were thrilled to be selected as one of the new Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) who receive funding. This is the first co-production that the company have presented since announcing the exciting news.


The first opera in the double bill is The Six of Calais, adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play, which premiered in 1934 and featured Greer Garson. Shaw was inspired by Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Burghers of Calais which commemorates a moment during The Hundred Years’ War when King Edward III of England offered to spare the lives of the people of Calais if six of their leaders surrendered themselves to him. In a contemporised production setting, after the unrepentant Peter Hardmouth berates him for his warmongering, King Edward resolves to sentence them all to death. His wife, Queen Philippa intercedes and demands that the burghers be treated kindly to avoid a bad omen being placed on her unborn child. Much bickering and light hearted chaos ensues and an unexpected family connection is revealed which convinces King Edward to spare the men’s lives.


The second opera of the double bill is Ruth, which sees Naomi and her husband Elimelech flee famine in Judah to seek a new life in Moab. They lived happily for many years and their two sons married Moab women, Orpah and Ruth. After Naomi’s husband and sons die, Naomi tells her daughters-in-law that she must return to Judah to reclaim Elimelech’s property. Orpah decides to remain in Moab, but Ruth decides to leave the life she knows behind and go with Naomi. Back in Judah, Naomi encourages Ruth to meet Boaz, a prominent land owner. Ruth and Boaz soon fall in love. However their future happiness is threatened when it is revealed that another landowner, Amnon, is first in line to claim Elimelech’s property. When Amnon learns that he can only own Elimelech’s land if he commits to sheltering Ruth and Naomi, he offers the property to Boaz instead. Boaz announces happily to the entire village that he will claim Elimelech’s land and Ruth will be his wife, with everyone welcoming Ruth to their community. Both exciting adaptations will be staged in a modern day setting and look at themes of female power migration, loyalty and acceptance, as well as the rebirth of nature and human connections.


The Six of Calais & Ruth libretto and music is by Philip Hagemann, the conductor is Avishka Edirisinghe, he is acting chorus master at English National Opera and répétiteur at Opera Holland Park, the director is Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong; with designed by Jida Akil and lighting designed by Chuma Emembolu. Composer Philip Hagemann’s has a long standing association with Pegasus Opera Company and staged The Aspern Papers in Spring 2022; past successful double bills include Passion, Poison and Petrification and The Prodigal Son in 2021 plus Shaw Goes Wilde in 2019, all staged at the Susie Sainsbury Theatre, Royal Academy of Music. He also composed Ruth and The Dark Lady of The Sonnets at the Actors Church, Covent Garden in 2018. Hagemann has published 75 choral compositions including a delightful Christmas novelty, Fruitcake, written with Penny Leka Knapp, which featured in the USA television series Nip/ Tuck. Hagemann has composed ten one-act and two full-length operas, two of which have won competitions from the National Opera Association in the USA. Hagemann Rosenthal Associates have produced a number of plays on Broadway and in the West End. Hagemann and Rosenthal are the recipient of three Tony Awards and one Olivier Award.


Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong has directed Miss Gyrus (Camden People’s Theatre); CAMPOWANA (Mountview Backstage Theatre); The Fourteenth Stop (Arcola Outside; Camden People’s Theatre) Consensual and The Birds (ALRA); Love and Art and You Can Bake (American Actors UK E-Plays Vol.1&2); Wonderland (University of Winchester); Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Grand Opera House, York). She has also been the Assistant Director on The Flock (Minerva Theatre, Chichester); Baylis Youth Company Summer Project (English National Opera); Britten’s Albert Herring (Harrow Opera). In 2020 Cassiopeia co-founded Speaks of Rivers, a physical theatre company who use puppetry, spoken word and music to create original stories for young audiences. She is a dramaturg with Orange Tree Theatre’s Writers Collective, an Associate Artist of the National Youth Theatre, and a reader for the Bruntwood Prize 2022.


Alison Buchanan is Artistic Director of Pegasus Opera Company and renowned soprano soloist.

She stars as the title role in Ruth. She is the winner of awards including the Kathleen Ferrier (Decca Prize), the Luciano Pavarotti, the Washington International and the Maggie Teyte competitions. Alison has performed with New York City Opera in Porgy & Bess and Don Giovanni. She has performed in venues throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House, The Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells for Pegasus Opera and for the London Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with The Baltimore and Boston Symphonies as well as the Philadelphia Orchestra and in Brazil with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and has given concerts in St. Louis, Washington DC, Gibraltar, Zimbabwe and Kazan. She has worked with conductors such as David Robertson, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Andre Previn, Jane Glover and Marin Alsop.


Pegasus Opera Company is a professional opera company based in Brixton, London with a family of widespread artists, participants and supporters. Pegasus Opera Company stage high-quality performances and balance this with the development of emerging artists of African and Asian heritage, bringing their work onto eminent platforms. For thirty years, the organisation has been the go-to company for opera and musical theatre singers, composers, instrumentalists and directors from African, Caribbean, and Asian backgrounds. The Company has held true to their founder Lloyd Newton’s credo of ‘harmony in diversity’. Pegasus Opera has inspired many to love opera; and celebrate the music of rich African, Asian and Caribbean diasporas using creativity to challenge and advocate for positive change.


Pegasus Opera are thrilled that award-winning international soprano Danielle de Niese has recently become a Patron of the company, she joins Sharon D Clarke MBE, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa DBE, Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE, Kristin Lewis, Chuka Umunna MP and Roderick Williams OBE. Past productions include Carmen, Magic Flute, I Pagliacci on National Tours, Porgy and Bess at the Barbican Concert Hall, Delius’ Koanga at London’s Sadler’s Wells and Treemonisha at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre and UK tour. In 2018 Pegasus Opera collaborated with Hagemann Rosenthal Associates to present their first double bill, Ruth and The Dark Lady of the Sonnets and in 2019 their second double bill Shaw Goes Wilde based on Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and The Rose and George Bernard Shaw’s The Music Cure. The company staged MAMI WATA to a sold out audience at the Royal Opera House and a Caribbean Christmas concert at St John’s in Kennington. Pegasus Opera delivers pioneering educational programmes through special workshops, outreach programmes and teaches thousands of children and young adults across London and the regions. The company has also launched an opera mentoring programme for the next generation of opera singers. Pegasus has commissioned Windrush Opera which will tour England in 2024.


LISTINGS INFORMATION: The Six of Calais & Ruth will be staged at Susie Sainsbury Theatre, Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HT on Friday 21 April 7.30pm, Saturday 22 April 7.30pm, Sunday 23 April 2pm. Tickets are £35, £25 concessions £15

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