Radical Opera

Part of the Arts & Humanities Festival 2014: Underground

Radical Opera: An Illustrated debate

Ever imagined Puccini set in a Chinese restaurant or Berlioz transported to Nazi Germany? Radical stagings of opera such as these are not unusual. But what would happen if you radically interpreted the music of an opera as well as the staging?

Join Professor Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (head of music at King’s College London) and Frederic Wake-Walker (artistic director of Mahogany Opera Group) as they debate this question. The contrasting arguments will be illustrated by opera singers directed by Frederic, fresh from his Glyndebourne production of Mozart’s la finta giardiniera. Arias from this lesser-known Mozart opera will be re-mixed to present a range of different interpretations, both musically and dramatically, to see what would happen if music were to be handled as creatively as the staging.


Daniel Leech-Wilkinson studied composition, harpsichord and organ at the Royal College of Music, then took the MMus at King’s, specialising in the 15th-century music. He is currently working on “Performers’ Perceptions of Music as Shape” within the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice.

Frederic Wake-Walker is a director, producer and curator of opera and multi-discipline arts. He has directed at Glyndebourne, Scottish Opera, Buxton Festival, La Monnaie Brussels, Opera North, Oviedo, Konzerthaus Berlin, RCS Glasgow and Aldeburgh Music.

Mahogany Opera Group creates new opera in new ways, in different spaces and places throughout the UK and internationally. It presents each distinct project with a vitality that stretches the boundaries of what opera can be and who it is for.

Presented by the Mahogany Opera Group and the Department of Music.

Image: courtesy of King’s College London