Royal College of Music International Opera School presents RCM alumnus Huw Watkins’ In the Locked Room and Peter Maxwell Davies' The Lighthouse

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Acclaimed theatre director Stephen Unwin joins forces with Michael Rosewell for a thrilling and mysterious opera double-bill, performed by the talented rising stars of the Royal College of Music (RCM) International Opera School.

Huw Watkins’ In the Locked Room is a gripping psychological drama described by the composer as ‘inward-looking and reflective, grappling with deep emotion.’ The one-act opera explores the power of the mind in an immersive interpretation of Thomas Hardy’s short story ‘An Imaginative Woman’. ‘There’s no spare flesh’ on Watkins’ vocal writing says The Guardian, ‘the textures he draws from the 14 instrumentalists in the pit have a Britten-like economy, every one fit for its purpose.’

Watkins was awarded the Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music in 2001. Of his alma mater staging In the Locked Room, Watkins said: ‘I’m thrilled that the RCM is putting on my opera this summer. Ever since I was a student there, I’ve marvelled at the quality of the opera productions. It will be a huge honour to hear these world class students performing my music.

Maxwell Davies’ chamber opera is set equally far from civilisation, though ‘served in quite different ways’ to Watkins’ drama, according to conductor Michael Rosewell. Based on the real-life unsolved disappearance of three lighthouse keepers, The Lighthouse offers a chilling portrayal of what may have unfolded on that fateful rain-lashed night in 1900. Maxwell Davies’ dense and virtuosic instrumentation reflects the disturbing nature of events and ‘builds to a shattering conclusion worthy of opera at its grandest’ according to The New York Times.

Stephen Unwin has directed over 50 professional theatre productions and 20 full-scale operas throughout his career. In 1993 he founded English Touring Theatre and has led productions at prestigious venues including the Old Vic, Donmar Warehouse and the Lyric Hammersmith. In 2017 Unwin directed an acclaimed double-bill of Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias and Chabrier’s Une éducation manquéat the Royal College of Music, called ‘slick and expert’ by Opera Now and ‘colourful and exuberant’ by Opera Today.

As is traditional for RCM International Opera School productions, two casts will alternate performances, giving as many accomplished young singers as possible the change to take to the RCM’s Britten Theatre stage.

RCM opera double bill

Huw Watkins’ In the Locked Room and Peter Maxwell Davies' The Lighthouse

27 June – 3 July

Mystery, intrigue and drama. From remote Scottish islands to the Sussex coast, acclaimed theatre director Stephen Unwin takes audiences on a suspensful night of music theatre.

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