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Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne Tour 2016

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mk-galleryDr Christopher Wiley has delivered two pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne Tour 2016, to preface its productions of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, on 8 and 9 November, respectively.

Both talks were delivered at the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes prior to performances at the nearby Milton Keynes Theatre. Speaking to some 60 audience members, Dr Wiley introduced the plots and characters of the operas, their historical backgrounds, noteworthy features of the music (such as Puccini’s use of authentic Japanese tunes in the score of Madama Butterfly), and aspects of the interpretations taken by Glyndebourne’s productions.

Dr Wiley has previously given pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne in 2014 and 2015, but this is the first time that he has been invited to speak at Milton Keynes.

Update: Dr Wiley reprised his pre-performance talk on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly to some 60 opera-goers in the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking on 30 November, by way of introduction to Glyndebourne’s production later that evening in the adjacent New Victoria Theatre.

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Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2015

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Rhoda McGaw Theatre, WokingDr Christopher Wiley delivered a pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2015, prefacing its production of Mozart’s opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail in the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, the tour’s final venue, on 1 December 2015.

Dr Wiley’s talk was held in the adjacent Rhoda McGaw Theatre, which was at capacity with some 200 opera-goers in attendance. Over the course of half an hour, Dr Wiley discussed the historical context of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, its extensive use of spoken dialogue, the virtuosic nature of some of its vocal writing, its orchestration and its portrayal of the East, as well as exploring aspects of Glyndebourne’s critically-acclaimed production.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which Mozart composed in 1781–2, holds a special place in Glyndebourne’s history: it was the work that brought its founder, John Christie, into contact with the soprano Audrey Mildmay, whom he subsequently married and who inspired the Glyndebourne Festival. This year’s production was the company’s seventh of the opera in its 80-year history.

The invitation for Dr Wiley to deliver this talk followed the success of his pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour in October 2014 on another Mozart opera, La finta giardiniera, and was similarly well-received.

Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2014

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Rhoda McGaw Theatre, WokingDr Christopher Wiley has given a pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2014, to preface its production of Mozart’s opera La finta giardiniera in the New Victoria Theatre, Woking on 28 October 2014.

Speaking to an audience of over 100 opera-goers in the adjacent Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Dr Wiley endeavoured to enhance the audience’s experience and enjoyment of the evening’s performance by providing some contextual knowledge of the opera.

In the course of the half-hour talk, Dr Wiley explored the plot of La finta giardiniera, its historical background, and its significance within Mozart’s output, as well as drawing attention to noteworthy musical features and key aspects of Glyndebourne’s performance.

Mozart composed the score to his comic opera La finta giardiniera in 1774, at the age of 18. Glyndebourne’s acclaimed 2014 production was its first ever of this work.

Dr Christopher Wiley writes on Dame Ethel Smyth for the OUP Blog

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Ethel SmythDr Christopher Wiley has contributed a text to the OUPblog, Oxford University Presss Academic Insights for the Thinking World, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the death of Dame Ethel Smyth, the pioneering composer and writer, on 8 May 1944.

Dr Wiley’s 1,000-word post, ‘Five facts about Dame Ethel Smyth’, may be read here: http://blog.oup.com/2014/05/facts-dame-ethel-smyth/

This blog entry follows Dr Wiley’s article on Smyth published in Oxford journal The Musical Quarterly last year.

To mark the anniversary, Dr Wiley also organized a lunchtime recital of Smyth’s music which took plan on 8 May 2014 in Woking, the town where she was resident from 1910 until her death.

Update: Dr Wiley’s blog entry was subsequently selected as one of the Editor’s Picks, appearing on the front page of the OUPblog for some weeks.

Dr Christopher Wiley leads recital of the music of Dame Ethel Smyth on the 70th anniversary of her death

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Christ Church WokingDr Christopher Wiley organized a recital of the music of Dame Ethel Smyth, given at Christ Church Woking by staff and students of the School of Arts at the University of Surrey, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the composer’s death in Hook Heath, near Woking on 8 May 1944.

The one-hour lunchtime recital of chamber, vocal, and solo keyboard works featured pianists Maureen Galea and Margaret Roberts, Isabella Stocchetti (flute), and Christopher Wiley (oboe, organ), as well as members of the University Chamber Choir. The full programme was as follows:

  • Two Interlinked French Folk Melodies (1928, from the opera Entente cordiale) for flute, oboe, and piano (Isabella Stocchetti, flute; Christopher Wiley, oboe; Margaret Roberts, piano)
  • Aus der Jugendzeit!! E. v. H. (c.1878–80) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • Nocturne (Kanon in Gegenbewegung) (c.1877–80) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • ‘O Gott du frommer Gott’ and Canon on ‘O Gott du frommer Gott’ (Nos. IIa & IIb from Short Choral Preludes, c.1882–4) (Christopher Wiley, organ)
  • Piano Suite in E major (c.1877–1880) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • Variations on Bonny Sweet Robin (Ophelia’s Song) (1928) (Isabella Stocchetti, flute; Christopher Wiley, oboe; Margaret Roberts, piano)
  • Overture to the opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Piano transcription (1913–14) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • ‘Laggard Dawn’ and ‘The March of the Women’ (Nos. 1 & 3 from Songs of Sunrise, 1910) (University Chamber Choir, dir. Isabella Stocchetti; Maureen Galea, piano)

Dr Wiley, who has been conducting research on Ethel Smyth for over a decade, also gave spoken introductions to each piece, and Surrey History Centre provided their ‘Musical Passions’ exhibition celebrating Smyth’s life.

Attended by some 50 audience members, this commemoration followed the Ethel Smyth Symposium hosted at the University in February of this year.

Update: The event was favourably reviewed by Sebastian Forbes, who wrote that ‘Senior lecturer Christopher Wiley, who has done much research into Smyth, not only devised and introduced the concert but also, very expertly, played oboe and organ.’

The review is available here: http://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/arts/2014/05/12/celebrating-the-life-and-work-of-dame-ethel-smythe-concert-at-christ-church-woking/