The opera centres on the 14 nurses of the hospital ship LLandovery Castle who served in harrowing circumstances throughout the war, their care and compassion contrasting with the chaos and violence surrounding them.
With music by Stephanie Martin and libretto by Paul Ciufo, the opera spotlights in particular the lives of Minnie ‘Kate' Gallaher and Rena ‘Bird' McLean, the latter traumatized by earlier battlefield-area nursing, and her quest to prove herself ready to return to the Front. Bird seeks to convince her superior, Matron Margaret ‘Pearl' Fraser, that she is strong enough to serve close to the action once more, little imagining the fatal turn their assignment would take.
The opera also features roles for 3 men: Sergeant Arthur ‘Art’ Knight and Major Tom Lyon, two of the 24 men who survived the sinking, and German U-boat commander Helmut Patzig.
The music of The Llandovery Castle skirts boundaries of genre and style. Scored for a sonorous classical chamber orchestra and nine singers, it has been described as “a modern flirtation between baroque, classical, traditional and popular genres.” Composer Stephanie Martin describes this operatic style as “21st-century bel canto”, focused on the narrative and expressive power of the human voice.
June 26 & 27, 2018
Calvin Presbyterian Church
After two years of research and development, composer Stephanie Martin and playwright Paul Ciufo partnered with the Bicycle Opera Project to present two workshop performances in Toronto on the centennial of the sinking.