Opera has never been my strong suit. That is not to say I don’t like it but, woefully, I am a) not a singer and b) of my generation; my attention span is average-to-poor and my untrained brain wanders while one teeny tiny point is laboured in a seven minute aria. Imagine my relief when I found out that Tansy Davies’s first opera, Between Worlds, was only an hour and a half long. I could cope with that.
If opera is what I don’t know, what I do know is a decent amount about Tansy Davies. Davies’s boundary-blurring art music with references to Prince and Stevie Wonder formed a chapter of my undergraduate dissertation, so I was excited to hear that she had composed her first opera. What I wasn’t so excited about, though, was the subject: 9/11. For Between Worlds, Davies and librettist Nick Drake worked together closely to plan the story they wanted to tell, at one point in Davies’s house in France drawing a plan on 25 feet of wallpaper. The duo wove the drama and created the characters using the messages sent on September 11th released by WikiLeaks.
Feminism is fashionable in 2015, possibly the most fashionable it’s ever been. International Women’s Day on 8th March, therefore, presented a great opportunity for any and every brand and platform to show how they aligned with gender equality issues. For BBC Radio 3, this meant the ‘Five Under 35’ series, a celebration of five women composers aged thirty-five and under, showcased in the daily Composer of the Week show.