Elena e Gerardo is the only opera by Marianna Bottini – one of 19th Century Italy’s greatest female composers – and it has never been performed. Random Opera is excited to be bringing the WORLD PREMIERE of this work to Rugby in 2023, accompanied by a 26-piece orchestra.
performed in Italian, with English subtitles
Sat 28 October 2023, 5.00pm
Temple Speech Room, Rugby
This performance will last for approximately 3 hours, including interval.
With its echoes of Romeo & Juliet, Marianna Bottini’s Elena e Gerardo is an epic romance, brimming with dramatic intrigue, virtuosic music, and of course, a pair of star-crossed lovers. When family honour meets secret love, which will triumph? And who will be left for dead?
In Venice, discontentment ripples through the household of nobleman Pietro Candiano. Desperate to assuage the deep depression into which his daughter Elena has fallen, he finally alights upon a possible answer: surely, he concludes, Elena has fallen in love. The only other man she ever meets is his loyal friend, Vittorio, who is overjoyed when Pietro offers him his daughter’s hand in marriage: he is himself fervently in love with Elena.
The matter is presented to Elena as a fait accompli by her father: he has seen the secret of her heart and intends to join her immediately in marriage to the man she loves. Elena readily consents, and her father rejoices, but a fatal misunderstanding soon threatens their happiness: the man Elena loves, and believes her father has in mind, is the absent Gerardo, whom she married in secret a year ago, before his departure on a diplomatic mission to Syria.
As Gerardo returns, and the wedding approaches, these tangled affections tighten into a noose. When Elena is finally forced to confess her secret, her sense of shame – and the anger of her father, who vows to disown her – are overwhelming, and she collapses. She has not named her husband; Gerardo watches, powerless, as her lifeless body is carried away and later, as her funeral procession passes.
Yet when a grief-stricken Gerardo visits his wife’s tomb, he discovers Elena weak, but alive, and their hopes for happiness are revived: until they go to meet Pietro with the news. Can his rage at his daughter’s deception be soothed by his joy at her return? Or must Elena now choose, for once and for all, between filial duty and her husband’s love?
Elena – Kelli-Ann Masterson
Kelli-Ann Masterson is an alumna of Irish National Opera studio 2019-2021 and is the current recipient of the Bernadette Greevy bursary from the National Concert Hall, Dublin. Kelli-Ann’s most recent performances include Norina in Don Pasquale in an Irish nationwide tour with Irish National Opera and the role of Sharon Graham/Soprano 2 in Masterclass by Terence McNally at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin.
2022 performance highlights include Semele in Handel’s Semele for Kilkenny Arts Festival with Opera Collective Ireland (Irish Times Theatre Award – Best Opera), Amor in Orfeo ed Euridice with Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and Handel’s Messiah at the NCH with the RTE Concert Orchestra.
Other notable roles include Vespetta in the Irish premiere of Pimpinone at Killaloe Chamber music Festival conducted by Peter Whelen, Donal O Dare in the world premiere of Raymond Deane’s Vagabones, Duchess/Bottle in Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Opera Collective Ireland), Marzelline in Fidelio and Rebecca in A Thing I Cannot Name (Irish National Opera), La Fée in Viardot’s Cendrillon (Wexford Festival Opera) and Chloé in Daphnis et Chloé (NI Opera).
Kelli-Ann was the recipient of both the PwC bursary and the Liam Healy bursary at Wexford Festival Opera, the 2019 Dramatic Cup Winner at Feis Ceoil Dublin, a 2023 semi-finalist at the London Handel Competition and a finalist in the 2022 BA Lirica International Vocal Competition, Italy.
Kelli-Ann is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin (BMus.Ed.) and TU Dublin, formerly DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama (MMus) and currently studies under the tutelage of Deirdre Masterson.
Gerardo – Katie Macdonald
British mezzo-soprano Katie Macdonald is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her studies were generously supported by The Behrens Foundation, The Kathleen Trust and The Mario Lanza Foundation. Katie is an Oxford Lieder Young Artist, a Britten-Pears Young Artist and a Voces8 Scholar. In the past few years Katie has had considerable success in competitions, winning the 2021 Susan Longfield Prize, the 2021 Chartered Surveyors Competition, and was a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition, and Camille Coloratura Awards.
Recent opera engagements include Nerone in Agrippina (Hampstead Garden Opera), Shepherd Boy in Tosca (Grange Park Opera) and Sister Osmina in Suor Angelica (Grange Park Opera). She has also worked with West Green House Opera, British Youth Opera, Sky Arts, St James’s Piccadilly, Opera Holland Park and GSMD Opera.
Other recent projects include recitals with LSO Discovery, premiering new compositions as part of the Aldeburgh Festival at Snape Maltings, composition workshops with Oxford Lieder and ROH composer in residence, recordings of Rutter for Classic FM, and SWAPras showcase for International Women’s Day.
Laura – Siân Griffiths
Mezzo-soprano Siân Griffiths recently graduated from the National Opera Studio’s Young Artist’s Programme in London, studying with John Evans and generously supported by the Nicholas John Trust. Previous to this, Siân gained her BA in Ancient History at the University of Reading before studying postgraduate voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2019, Siân joined Guildhall’s prestigious Opera course and completed her studies there in summer 2021.
Recent performing highlights include Suzuki in Lyric Opera Ireland’s 2023 production of Madama Butterfly; Cherubino in Spira Mirabilis’ concert performance of Le nozze di Figaro; Guest Singer in the Royal Ballet’s production of Like Water for Chocolate by Joby Talbot at the Royal Opera House, London; as well as Fanny Price in Waterperry Opera’s 2022 production of Mansfield Park by Jonathan Dove. During her time at the National Opera Studio Siân took part in residency performances with English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera and Opera North, where Siân sang various roles including Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Bradamante (Alcina) and Charlotte (Werther) in extracted scenes from the operas (respectively).
Recent concert experience includes Alto soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Festival Chorus; Alto soloist in Saint-Saëns Messe de Requiem for the Sussex House School, as well as Alto soloist in Michael Haydn’s Requiem in C minor and Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore for the Wooburn Singers.
Future performances include Dryad in Garsington Opera’s upcoming production of Ariadne auf Naxos and Baba the Turk in Verbier Festival’s Atelier Lyrique production of The Rake’s Progress.
Vittorio – Rhydian Jenkins
Welsh Tenor Rhydian Jenkins is a 2023/24 Young Artist at the National Opera Studio. Hailing from Maesteg, South Wales, Rhydian graduated with Distinction from the David Seligman Opera School at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is taught by Nicky Spence and Adrian Thompson.
A winner of the 2019 Bryn Terfel Scholarship, 2021 MOCSA Young Welsh Singer of the Year and 2022 Clonter Opera Emerging Artist, roles include Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Peter Quint (The Turn of the Screw), Ruggero (La rondine), Alfred (Die Fledermaus), and Anthony Hope (Sweeney Todd). Rhydian’s opera scenes include Nemorino (L’Elisir d’Amore), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Tom Rakewell (The Rake’s Progress), Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola) and Albert Herring (Albert Herring).
His 2022/23 season included performing the role of Sergei (Cherry Town, Moscow) with Welsh National Opera, and covered the role of Ruggero (La rondine) with IF Opera. Whilst at the National Opera Studio as a 2022/23 Young Artist, Rhydian performed residencies at Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera and English National Opera, performing roles in scenes including Ernesto (Don Pasquale), Fenton (Falstaff), Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), and Vašek (The Bartered Bride). He also made his debut at Wigmore Hall and The Bridgewater Hall (performing with The Hallé Orchestra), and participated in the Royal Opera House annual masterclass, led by international tenor Gregory Kunde.
This summer, Rhydian made his debut at both Longborough Festival Opera performing the role of Snout in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, followed by covering and performing the role of Spoletta in Puccini’s Tosca with Northern Ireland Opera.
Pietro – Martin Lamb
Martin Lamb was born in Southport and studied at St John’s College, Oxford and GSMD. He has appeared as a principal artist with many of the country’s leading opera companies, including ENO, Scottish Opera, ETO, Diva Opera, and Garsington Opera. His repertoire encompasses character bass and bass-baritone roles including Don Pasquale, the Mozart and Rossini Dr Bartolos, Dulcamara, Don Magnifico and Alberich. He has created roles in new works by composers including Lyell Cresswell, Timothy Burke, Danyal Dhondy, and Vitaly Khodosh, and this year in Lisa Logan’s Brontë: the Opera at the Arcola Theatre. He won the Audience Prize at the Wagner Society singing competition in 2014.
Alongside his work as a singer, Martin is a playwright and theatre-maker specialising in creating works for family audiences, often in unusual settings (including the Tower of London, Dover Castle and several stately homes and castles) and his plays about science have toured the UK and throughout China. Last season he translated and directed a new version of Così fan Tutte for the Gap Festival in Goring & Streatley, and is currently working on a new English version of Le nozze di Figaro for the same festival. He lives in South Yorkshire with his wife and son, and is delighted to return to Random Opera for whom he sang Kaspar in Der Freischütz in 2022.
Conductor – Thomas Payne
British conductor Thomas Payne is quickly gaining international recognition on the podium. Described as ‘clearly a name to watch’ – Seen and Heard International, he is Musical Director of London City Orchestra and enjoys relationships with both orchestras and opera and ballet companies across the UK and abroad.
In 2018/20, he joined the Royal Opera House music staff as a member of the prestigious Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. During this time he was assistant and cover conductor for numerous productions, including Otello, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Manon, Mayerling and Don Quixote, and also conducted the Royal Opera House Orchestra in concert.
He has since gone on to conduct for the Royal Danish Theatre, Gothenburg Opera and Southbank Sinfonia, among others, and he will make his Scottish Ballet debut this season with The Snow Queen.
He has been personally invited to assist by many conductors, including Antonio Pappano at the London Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Lee Reynolds at the Philharmonia and Martin Yates at the BBC Symphony Orchestra, where he will also act as second conductor on recordings of Vaughan Williams’ works for chorus and orchestra later this year.
In 2021/22 he returned to The Royal Opera and Grange Park Opera as Off-Stage and Assistant Conductor for Rigoletto, Otello, La Gioconda, Der fliegende Holländer, The Excursions of Mr Brouček and Gods of the Game, a new commission for Sky Arts.
Future engagements include conducting Agrippina for HGO and La bohème for DEBUT
Repetiteur – Emma Cayeux
Emma Cayeux originally moved to the UK to study English linguistics, before definitely turning her attention to music in 2013. A graduate of Cardiff University, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and the Wales International Academy of Voice, she is presently engaged at the National Opera Studio.
She has recently joined Opera Holland Park’s music team as chorus pianist and deputy repetiteur, and is delighted to have been selected to participate in the 2023-2024 Orsay-Royaumont Academy with British mezzo-soprano Emma Roberts.
Previous engagements include repetiteur work for Mid-Wales Opera (The Marriage of Figaro 2020), Berlin Opera Academy (Hänsel und Gretel 2021), North Wales Opera Studio (La bohème 2021), Opera in a Box (Carmen, 2022), and Lyric Opera Studio Weimar (Die Zauberflöte 2022).
During her undergraduate studies, Emma won the Bryan Davies accompaniment prize as a second year student, and was a finalist in the 2017 Mary Rees Chopin Prize. She has taken part in masterclasses with renowned artists Helmut Deutsch, Steven Osborne, Steven Devine, and Simon Lepper.
This is her first collaboration with Random Opera, and Emma looks forward to exploring the never performed work of composer Marianna Bottini with the company.
Director – Richard Tegid Jones
Richard Tegid Jones is the Founder and General Director of Random Opera Company.
Alongside a career in accountancy, Richard began performing on the amateur stage in 2003, before starting Random Opera Company on a whim in 2011. Since then he has produced and directed a number of staged operas, including La Sonnambula, Der Freischütz, Così fan tutte, L’elisir d’amore and Carmen, as well as remotely-recorded productions of Le Nozze di Figaro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, and film productions of Don Pasquale (filmed at Glyndebourne) and The Heavenly Ledger (Random Opera Company’s first new commission).
Richard is the driving force behind this production, after finding a reference to the work in a list of operas by women. He is delighted to finally see this work coming to the stage.
Who was Marianna Bottini?
Born in 1802, Bottini was a contemporary of Rossini, and was admitted to the Academy of Music in Bologna as an “Honorary Master Composer” at the age of just 18. Bottini composed Elena e Gerardo in 1822 at the age of 20. She subsequently stopped composing at the age of 21, when she married.
General Director Richard Tegid Jones discovered that the completed score was held in the archives at the Institute Boccherini in Lucca, and set about plans to stage the work for the first time.
The combination of Bottini’s clear talent as a composer, as well as the importance of correcting the historic gender imbalance that has left this work unperformed for 200 years, makes this a very important premiere not just for Random Opera, but for the opera world in general.
Watch an exclusive first performance of Elena’s aria “Perchè mai”, by Julieth Lozano (soprano) & Mary Reid (Harp), demonstrating the extraordinary beauty of this work
Support our project to bring this opera to the stage, and to publish the score. Whether a one-off donation or a regular monthly amount, every penny will help us to realise this project. Donate today!
This project is supported with funding from Arts Council England