St Pancras Train Station becomes an Opera Hall for International Women’s Day | International Women’s Day

CCommuters and long-haul travelers at London’s St Pancras International station are getting something very different this International Women’s Day: a chance to stop in an unusual place, reflect and enjoy a moment of art and connection.

On March 8th, the train station becomes the stage for a series of brand new railway-themed micro-operas created by teams of composers and librettists.

These include the poetic song Detritus by Laura Reid and Oge Nwosu, performed at the National Rail Service departure boards and told from the perspective of a cleaner reuniting people with their lost belongings.

And against the backdrop of the station’s iconic statue, The Meeting Place, Sarah Lianne Lewis and Sophia Chapadjiev The Parting Place tells the story of an elusive voyeur, while Joanna Taylor and Kerry Priest’s I Just Wanna Be (at Center Parcs) explores journeys beyond the ordinary.

Each newly commissioned piece is based on anecdotes submitted to the Royal Opera House by members of the public and explores themes of time, movement, encounters and farewells. The composer/librettist duos were selected following an open call by ROH’s Jette Parker Young Artists Program (JPYA).

The series, titled Lost and Found, also includes Victoria Bernarth and Teresa Howard’s Mini Break, a comic opera about the panic of lost passports and the inevitable bickering that follows, and Anna Braithwaite’s The Hardest Journey and Priests on Hidden Disabilities.

The Meeting Place becomes the backdrop for The Parting Place. Photo: Dave Porter/Alamy

The event is part of the Europalia Arts Festival involving European railway stations, including the central stations of Antwerp, Brussels and Rotterdam.

Some of the writing teams were mentored by award-winning composer Laura Bowler, whose new work The Blue Woman will premiere at ROH this summer.

Vocalists include Jette Parker Young artists April Koyejo-Audiger, Thando Mjandana, Chuma Sijeqa, Blaise Malaba and Egor Zhuravskii, along with Siân Dicker, Milly Forrest, Njabulo Madlala, Sam Marston, Zahid Siddiqui and Jamie Woollard. They are accompanied by players from the Belgian chamber ensemble Casco Phil, whose artistic director Benjamin Haemhouts conceived the project.

Angelique MacDonald, Producer of the JPYA said: “It was a privilege to read the personal stories shared with us for this project and to see how they inspired seven new works in diverse styles and approaches. Opera is an innate human art form and it is tremendously exciting to be able to perform such a relatable work with Caso Phil at St Pancras International.”

Wendy Spinks, Commercial Director at HS1 said: “We are delighted that St Pancras International will be the setting for the latest Lost and Found performances direct from the Eurostar. There will no doubt be many interesting and entertaining stories of travelers passing through train stations, and we can’t wait to bring them to life through the magic and beauty of the opera.”

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