Flight (opera)

Flight (opera)

"Flight" is an English opera in two acts, with music by Jonathan Dove and libretto by April De Angelis. The work was commissioned by Glyndebourne Opera and premiered on 24 September 1998 by Glyndebourne Touring Opera. The first US performance was at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis on 8 June 2003. [ [http://search.ft.com/ftArticle?queryText=Bryan+%26+Bryan+Asphalt&id=030707000373 Sarah Bryan Miller, Review of "Flight". "Financial Times", 7 July 2003.] ] The first Australian production was at the Adelaide Festival Theatre on 3 March 2006, which won a 2006 Helpmann Award. [ [http://www.playbillarts.com/news/article/4995.html Vivien Schweitzer and Matthew Westphal, "Australia's Helpmann Awards Name Winners". "Playbill Arts", 2 August 2006.] ] .

De Angelis took part of the inspiration for the story from the true-life story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee who lived at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, for several years, unable to exit the airport terminal. [ [http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=25704 Jessica Duchen, "I Wanted to Write a Show That I'd Like to See Myself' - Jonathan Dove on His Opera "Flight". "The Independent", 30 June 2005.] ] (The same story was used in the Steven Spielberg film "The Terminal", independently conceived from the opera.)

Dove has arranged music from "Flight" into an orchestral "Airport Suite" for concert performances. This suite was first performed in Warwick in 2006.

British Youth Opera will mount a fully staged version in September 2008.


* The Flight Controller (soprano)
* The Refugee (counter-tenor)
* Bill (tenor)
* Tina (soprano)
* Older Woman (mezzo-soprano)
* Stewardess (mezzo-soprano)
* Steward (baritone)
* Minskman (bass-baritone)
* Minskwoman (mezzo-soprano)
* Immigration Officer (bass-baritone)


The setting is an airport departure lounge, over the course of a day.

Act I has all of the characters en route somewhere, except for the Controller, the Refugee, and the Immigration Officer. The Refugee cannot leave the airport because he does not have a passport or other documents to allow him to enter the country legally. The Immigration Officer continually looks for the Refugee in order to arrest him. Bill and Tina are on holiday to try to get their relationship out of its routine, with the help of a sex manual. The Older Woman, also on holiday, is on her way to meet a younger man. Minskman is a diplomat on assignment, and his wife, Minskwoman, is pregnant and on the brink of childbirth. The Stewardess and Steward, when not serving the customers, enjoy a vibrant physical relationship. At the last minute, Minskwoman is afraid to fly, and Minskman goes to his destination without his wife. As Act I closes, all of the characters are stranded at the airport because all flights are delayed because of inclement weather.

Act II takes place during the night, just after the storm has grounded all the planes. After all the characters have gone to sleep, Bill, in an attempt to break out of his "predictable" nature, makes a pass at the Stewardess. The Refugee tries to insinuate himself with the various women there and gives them each a "magic stone" that he says will cure their individual travails. The women toast their good fortune and drink with the Refugee. Eventually, the women realize that the Refugee has given them all the same "magic stone", and turn on him, knocking him unconscious and concealing him within a trunk. Meanwhile, Bill and the Steward engage in a brief affair, closing Act II.

Act III take place at dawn; the storm has cleared and a plane is landing. Minskman has returned suddenly on the first available flight back, unable to continue without his wife at his side. When Tina learns of Bill's flirtation, she angrily strikes him with the sex manual, so much so that he loses his memory, and greets her as if they have just met. Minskwoman suddenly goes into labor and delivers her baby in the terminal, just as the Refugee awakes from the trunk. The characters, with the insight of newlife, reflect on the problems in their lives and offer forgiveness to each other for their wrongs. The Immigration Officer finally catches up with the Refugee. The other characters offer their help to persuade the Immigration Officer to "review the situation", though all attempts are unsuccessful. The Refugee tells his story, which explains why he has no documentation. The Immigration Officer says that the Refugee cannot leave the terminal, but he decides otherwise to "turn a blind eye" to him, and not to arrest him. Having done all they can do, Minskman and Minskwoman, with their new baby, fly to his new mission. Bill and Tina, taking the opportunity to start fresh with her husband, and the Older Woman go to their respective vacation destinations. The opera ends with the Flight Controller and the Refugee alone in the terminal.


One commercial recording exists of the opera [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2004/06/14/bmclasscds14.xml Matthew Rye, "Classical CDs of the week: Jonathan Dove and more". "Telegraph", 14 June 2004.] ] , on Chandos, recorded live from Glyndebourne Festival Opera, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Parry. The cast of singers is as follows:
* Refugee – Christopher Robson
* Controller – Claron McFadden
* Bill – Richard Coxon
* Tina – Mary Plazas
* Older Woman – Nuala Willis
* Stewardess – Ann Taylor
* Steward – Garry Magee
* Minskman – Steven Page
* Minskwoman – Anne Mason
* Immigration Officer – Richard Van Allan


External links

[http://www.editionpeters.com/composer/article.php?inno=IN00149&section=composer Edition Peters page on "Airport Scenes"]

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