Stephen has produced a new translation of the libretto of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s The Bells (Opus 35). The work was composed in 1913 to a libretto by the Russian surrealist poet Konstantin Balmont who had freely adapted Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Bells. The new English translation attempts to bring the libretto closer to Poe’s original poem. It will be premièred in the Barbican Hall on Friday 27th September 2019 by the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra and the Guildhall Symphony Chorus, conducted by Dominic Wheeler.
Bloom Britannia is a comic opera set in the fictional Southern town of Melhaven. The announcement of the winner of a national competition to regenegerate the coastal towns is imminent.The Mayor of Melhaven has pulled out all the stops, hoping to boost its bid for the money to save the declining resort. But it only survives on its black economy, and when the judges arrive for their final inspection, the cracks start to appear, not only in Melhaven, but in post-Brexit Britain as a whole. The first act of Bloom Britannia was performed at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill in April 2019 to great acclaim. The full production will be mounted in October 2020.
Together with the writer Zoe Palmer, Stephen is currently working on the book for Darktown is Out Tonight, a musical about the career of the volatile composer and producer Will Marion Cook who brought the first black musicals to Broadway at the turn of the twentieth century. The show follows the development of African-American theatre music through the era of ragtime and jazz, beginning with Cook’s hit shows, Clorindy and In Dahomey, which took America by storm. It also tells the parallel story of Cook’s wife Abbie Mitchell whom he cast in Clorindy, aged just fourteen. Mitchell went on to star in the première of Porgy and Bess, and was the first singer to record ’Summertime’. The musical will be premièred at the Guildhall School of Music in 2023.