‘Clocks 1888: The Greener’: Martin Ward chamber opera premieres

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Martin Ward’s new chamber opera Clocks 1888: The Greener, premiered in Doncaster last week before making its London debut at the Hackney Empire, paying homage to the narrative’s East London setting.

The production centres on four Victorian characters: the exploited working-class girl of mix-raced ethnicity, her ageing guardian, her cruel owner and master of the clock, and a young author whose anthropological fascinations develop into what he believes to be a ‘love’ for the girl.

The opera was produced by Brolly Productions, a company comprised of set designer Rachana Jadhav, and director/writer Dominic Hingorani. Deemed a ‘steampunk opera’ by its creators, the plot evolves within a clock tower. A plethora of cogs, wheels, ropes and ladders consume the stage whilst the characters negotiate the mechanisms of the clock. 

The opera’s hard-hitting themes are expertly accompanied by Ward’s score, orchestrated simply yet effectively for piano trio, with occasional electronics and the  haunting ‘ticking’ of the ever-present clock. 

 

REVIEWS

 

‘Opera can be an acquired taste for most people but those who doubt its ability to entertain and tell a good tale should have popped along to watch Clocks 1888: The Greener’

‘A lively new opera with a hard-hitting story to tell, and made all the more entertaining by an imaginative stage set and sterling performances from the cast of four’.

‘The songs are lively and hit the mark when telling this tale of subjugation and the fight for freedom…’

Rotherham Advertiser (Antony Clay) 18 April 2016

 

‘Vocal lines that suggest Sweeney Todd or a malevolent version of Stanley Holloway’s Alfred Doolittle…’

‘Martin Ward’s music is very much in the service of the overall concept but skillfully distinguishes between the different characters and equally skilfully combines them in some effective ensembles…’

The Reviews Hub (Ron Simpson) 17 April 2016

 

‘The accompaniment is impressively colourful and varied…the music dips and soars as opera should…’

Broadway World (Gary Naylor) 21 April 2016

 

‘The piece is played out to the backdrop of the interior to a huge Victorian clock. Somewhat open to interpretation, the clock is a powerful constant, perhaps symbolic of the mechanical industrial climate of the time. It remains the set for the entirety of the piece, chugging and turning along in time to the music. The score, composed by Martin Ward, is also somewhat mechanical in its rhythm and varies between highly emotional and darkly comical pieces.’

The Upcoming (Michelle Keepence), 21 April 2016