19th January 2011
A new opera by Peter Maxwell Davies has been commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Juilliard School of Music, New York, for premiere March 2011 (at the RAM, conducted by Jane Glover) and November 2011 (at the Juilliard, conducted by Anne Manson). Kommilitonen! (Young blood!) will be directed by the librettist David Pountney.
This work consists of three interlocking stories of students involved in political action in three different periods of history. The first follows the activities of Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose), a group of students at the University of Munich, led by siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl, who produced leaflets protesting against the National Socialist government, 1942–3. The six core members of the group were arrested by the Gestapo (German secret police) and subsequently executed by decapitation in 1943.
The second, Soar to Heaven, follows two characters, Wu and Zhou, involved on opposite sides of the Cultural Revolution in China, which took place from 1966-76 (The title derives from a popular slogan of the Red Guards). The third, The Oxford Revolution, tells the story of James Meredith who fought a lonely battle against segregation and racial prejudice to become the first black student to enrol at the University of Mississippi (situated in Oxford, Mississippi), in 1962. With the libretto in English, each of these highly-charged stories has its own musical identity, reflecting the cultural and political situation of the tale.
The UK premiere takes place on March 18. The US premiere takes place on November 16.
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