|Performances coming up|
|Cinderella: As part of their 'Scenes from Modern Opera', Morley Opera School is performing Cinderella or The Vindication of Sloth which Stephen wrote as part of a BBC series on the seven deadly sins. It was written in 1991 - a year before he died. It will be performed at Bridewell Theatre, Fleet Street, London on the evenings of 26th, 27th and 28th June and the afternoon of 29th June (full details on the Morley College website).|
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|"Friendships in Constant Repair": Perspectives on the life and work of Stephen Oliver|
|This new book was 'editor's choice' in Classical Music Magazine and listed as one of the books of the year in Classic FM Magazine. It was also reviewed by Rodney Milnes in the March, 2011 Opera magazine.|
In addition to a biography of Stephen’s unusual early life and school days, the book includes wonderful reminiscences and quotes from many eminent people in the Arts world. There are also over 30 photographs and transcripts of two interviews with Stephen. There are examples of his own brilliant writing plus a CD of him talking and singing.
Stephen's enormous talent in music and literature, generosity to others, keen wit and wonderful sense of humour, make this a must-read book for anyone interested in music, theatre and the arts—or anyone interested in simply exploring the concept of friendship or an approach to dealing with a terminal illness in the prime of life.
Ruth and James Oliver say: “We have experienced a wide range of emotions and remembrances as we have compiled our brother’s story. We have shed tears and laughed out loud, and in learning more about his extraordinary life, we have in turn learnt more about ourselves. We hope that all who read this book will enjoy something of the same experience.”
The £20 hardback book (ISBN 978-184876-534-4) is now available from UK booksellers and can be ordered from this website using Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and a wide range of other cards or PayPal. BOOKS ORDERED ON THIS WEBSITE ARE SOLD AT 25% DISCOUNT i.e. £15 plus £3 p&p per book.
Click the 'Add to Cart' button above to order a copy or copies.
Andrew Green's four star review in the Classical Music Magazine (23rd October, 2010) says:
"Nearly two decades after his death and published to mark the 60th anniversary of his birth comes this variegated collection of writings in memory of the extraordinary Stephen Oliver. His output as a composer was staggering enough, most notably of course opera and musical theatre, but he was also a natural broadcaster, writer, lecturer and even actor, cramming his all-too-short life with contributions to the cultural body politic. And as the Samuel Johnson quotation in the book title is intended to indicate, Oliver took friendship and its responsibilities as seriously as anything else.
Friends indeed contribute much to this compilation, the devoted work of Oliver's brother and sister. The memories go back to early years, including his time as a St Paul's Cathedral chorister, when the already precocious early talent blossomed. We sample 0liver's own authentic voice talking about his life in conversation with Paul Griffiths and then German journalist Werner Bleisteiner, before moving on to a transcript of a legendary Radio 3 One Pair of Ears review of a week's broadcasting - deliciously written in rhyming couplets. Both this and the Bleisteiner interview also appear (along with examples of Oliver as witty songwriter/performer) on a bonus CD which adds greatly to the overall package.
Among the household names contributing memories are Tim Rice (on his collaboration with Oliver on the strangely underperformed musical Blondel), Simon Callow (musing on Oliver's gift for graceful bluntness), Graham Vick, Jonathan Dove and Jane Glover, whose close friendship with Oliver began at Oxford and flourished ever thereafter. There are contributions from Oliver's doctor and the nurse with him when he died of an Aids-related illness. His ashes were scattered at Batignano, the medieval Tuscan hill village graced so often, as we read, by his operas. Finally comes a transcript of the 1992 celebration of Oliver's life at St Paul's Covent Garden, including his setting of the Horatian lines embracing the legendary motto Carpe Diem. I hope that the truly gigantic concluding list of works and the book as a whole will encourage an 'Oliver Revival'. He probably would have chortled at the thought."
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|Performances in 2010|
|The first performance of the 60th anniversary year was on 12th January at the Purcell Room on the South Bank. Clare Hammond played a piano piece originally written for Julian Jacobson called ‘Study’. It was a dramatic performance much enjoyed by the audience. |
Then in March, the excellent Commotio Chamber Choir performed ‘O Fons Amoris’ in a concert at St Barnabas Church, Oxford. The surroundings for this haunting piece were wonderful and it fitted in well in a beautifully veried programme.
In mid April, the Minotaur Music Theatre did three excellent performances of 'A Man of Feeling' in a double bill with Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro.
On 9th May, many friends and colleagues gathered at the Playhouse in Norwich for a concert of Stephen's music 'Stephen Oliver at 60'. Peter Wilson gathered Cantabile, Jonathan Dove, the London Mozart Players, Nicholas Cleobury, The Norfolk and Norwich Festival Chorus, a group from the Birmingham Opera Company and Simon Callow together for a memorable celebration of Stephen's music including two ensembles from Timon of Athens, three songs from the RSC's Tempest, four songs from Blondel and Bilbo's last song from Lord of the Rings. The Birmingham Opera Company performed the opera 'A Man of Feeling' for two voices and piano and the second half was led by Simon Callow who narrated 'The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby' with many extracts from Stephen's wonderful music.
In the Eastern Daily Press, Christopher Smith referred to the evening as an "Affectionate and entertaining tribute" and in the Evening Standard, Barry Millington thought it was all "excellent festival fare".
On 12th May, the Cork School of Music put on a production of the opera "The Garden". This dramatic piece for soprano, tenor, harpsichord and string quartet was warmly appreciated by the audience of students, staff and friends. Soprano, Gemma Sugrue took on her role as part of her master's degree and she was ably supported by lecturer and tenor, Robert Craig.
On 11th September, there was a further performance of the Birmingham Opera Company's A Man of Feeling as part of the Birmingham Arts Fest, at the Yardbird Jazz Club, Birmingham.
Also during the week beginning 6th September, the British Youth Opera presented two semi-staged performances of Stephen Oliver’s adaptation of Peri’s opera Euridice at the Peacock Theatre, London. With a universally strong cast of eighteen and a plain stage (with wonderful lighting effects), the audience experienced the Peri vocal lines of 1600 without alteration but with a freer and exciting approach to the orchestration. It was beautifully executed and provided a memorable occasion for everyone involved.
In the second week of October, the Minotaur Music Theatre included the ten minute opera 'The Waiter's Revenge' as part of an opera evening which also included 'Savitri' by Gustav Holst and 'Hin und Zuruck' by Paul Hindemith. This production took place at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in London. The Waiter's Revenge was performed in the public bar downstairs to the astonishment and delight of those who happened to be there at the time! With performers entering the pub at various points, it was wonderful to speculate on whether they were part of the opera or simply people entering the pub! The three operas together made a perfect evening with confident and colourful performances from a talented young cast. Members of the cast also treated the audience to three delightful Kurt Weill songs.
Also in October, the Jays Singers included the piece 'A Dialogue between Mary and her Child' at their Concert at Blofield Church, Norfolk.
The year ended with an ambitious production of both parts of Nicholas Nickleby by Reigate Grammar School in mid December.
Please do let us know if you are performing an Oliver piece and contact Meg Montheith at Novellos for advice about Oliver works for performance(Meg.Monteith@musicsales.co.uk). Available published works can also be browsed on the Novello catalogue: www.chesternovello.com/default.aspx?TabId=2431&State_2905=2&composerId_2905=1160
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|What can you tell us?|
|Please do use the 'Contacts' section of this website if you have information about Stephen Oliver performances. We will gladly publish the details in the 'News' section.|
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