Dear Marie Stopes
A new chamber opera by Alex Mills based on Marie Stopes' controversial sex manual from 1918 and the intensely moving archive of private letters it inspired.
"Still relevant and still controversial - ★★★★½"- Robert Hugill
First published in 1918, Marie Stopes’ infamous sex manual, Married Love, revolutionised the way people understood desire, sexuality and sexual health. In response, Stopes received thousands of emotionally-charged letters from readers asking for more advice and sharing their individual stories, which are now stored in Wellcome Collection’s archives.
A century on, "Dear Marie Stopes" by Alex Mills explores this fascinating snapshot of a society’s sex life using extracts from the letters - with striking relevance to society today. The libretto uses letters from the archive carefully collated with archivist and gender and sexuality expert, Dr Lesley Hall, and writer and librettist, Jennifer Thorp, and the production has been sensitively directed by Nina Brazier.
"This is Alex Mills' first opera, and in it he achieves a confident control of pacing, drama and texture, making what is essentially a quasi-site-specific work into something far more." - Robert Hugill
- The world premiere took place in The Reading Room at The Wellcome Collection, August 9th -12th 2018, as part of Tête-à-Tête.
- The next performance will be at Kings Place on 21st September 2019.
- Running time: 45 minutes
- Scored for Soprano, Contralto, Countertenor, Viola da gamba, Cello, Percussion + electronics.
"A 45-minute musical meditation with throbbing pedal points over which the voices range in chant-like melodies or angular homophony… Most memorable is a climactic trio in which the three voices twine with Rosenkavalier-like sensuality” - Opera magazine
The official trailer of "Dear Marie Stopes":
Extracts from the world premiere of "Dear Marie Stopes":
(The Wellcome Collection, London, August 2018)
- BBC Radio 4 Today Programme:
- The Guardian (print + online) - "The opera about pioneer sexpert Marie Stopes"
- The Independent (print + online) - "The best alternative hip opera shows to see this summer"
- The Independent (print + online) - "How sexual pioneer Stopes inspired a new opera"
- The Evening Standard (online) - "An opera about birth control advocate Marie Stopes is coming to London"
- Stylist (online): "How Marie Stopes revolutionised British Women's sex lives"
- Review by Robert Hugill (★★★★½): "Still relevant & still controversial: Alex Mills' Dear Marie Stopes at the Wellcome Collection"