“Have you seen the place beyond tomorrow,
where the doors are open and the tea is sweet?
They say it’s not so far: just over the horizon,
where the sea meets the land meets your feet.”
– from Belongings
An Opera in One Act, 60 minutes
Youth chorus, soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone; chamber ensemble
Commissioned by Glyndebourne Festival Opera
First performance: 10th November, 2017, Glyndebourne
Somewhere, there are bombs dropping.
Accompanied by their teacher, a group of evacuees board the train from London to Lewes to escape the Blitz, singing of the exciting adventure they anticipate in the countryside. Their optimism fades as they begin to pine for home, and one group decides to run away.
Meanwhile, in the present day, a group of refugee children are re-building their recently demolished shelters. They try to remain positive while contemplating the dangerous final stage of their journeys.
Watch the full film of Belongings here.
“Lewis Murphy’s accessible score cleverly mixes the community song feel of the 1940s with more contemporary resonances, so that the work’s earworm (rare in contemporary opera) ‘We won’t be there tomorrow, we’ll be there today,’ spans the generations as a prayer of comfort and hope. There is a truly heartbreaking chorus, as the evacuees write home ‘Dear Mum and Dad, please…’, in which Murphy takes ‘please’ and weaves it polyphonically, as if the word itself is trying to find its way home.
Still think opera’s a world away? Think again.”
– Eleanor Knight, The Argus *****