Interstella

Opera about smashing the ultimate glass ceiling

About INTERSTELLA

INTERSTELLA charts the course of trailblazing women instrumental in space exploration. In a series of short interlocking one-woman chamber operas, INTERSTELLA gives voice to astronauts, engineers and mathematicians – women whose stories have been eclipsed.

Created by an all female/non-binary team, this small-scale, adaptable production is designed to tour to unusual science-based performance spaces. Alongside will run an education project aimed at primary school children at KS2.

Fusing science and music, INTERSTELLA follows the trajectory of women light-years ahead of their time, and the impact they’ve made on space exploration.

The Trailblazers

Just some of the pioneering scientists who have inspired us:

Alyssa Carson (2001- ), astronaut currently training for Mars mission

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) helped with the calculations for multiple space missions including the moon landing, and started work on the mars mission

Ellen Ochoa (1958-), astronaut and now director of Johnson Space centre. Plays the flute and took a flute with her into space!

Sally Ride (1951-2012), astronaut and the first American woman in space

Helen Sharman (1963-), chemist & astronaunt, and the first British woman in space

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (1937-), engineer, cosmonaut and the first woman in space

Gladys Mae West (1930-), mathematician whose work on satellites lead to the invention of GPS technology

The Project

The pandemic has made us reflect on how we, as performers and creative professionals, want to shape the future of our industry. We remain hugely disappointed in the representation of women in opera – both on and off stage. Even in the 2021/22 season well over 95% of all operas performed by the major UK companies are written by men.

We want to tell inspirational stories about women and by women. We want to create new and accessible works with longevity, so we can pass these stories on to the next generation. In choosing to write about real historical women working in STEM and Space Exploration, we choose to celebrate women whose contributions have often been overlooked in a male-dominated industry.

INTERSTELLA is specifically designed to go into spaces where opera isn’t usually heard. The three 10 minute operas (for solo singer and four instruments) will be designed around a minimal set which is easily tourable.

We have been invited to a week-long residency at Snape Maltings in collaboration with Britten-Pears Arts in April 2022 to develop the work. We plan commission the finished operas in autumn 2022, and tour with accompanying education workshops in late 2022/2023.

The Team

Our collaborators include composers Ella Jarman-Pinto (BBC Radio 3), Charlotte Marlow (Tête à Tête) & Yshani Perinpanayagam (Olivier Award Winner), librettists Laura Attridge (Royal Opera House), Jo Brandon (BBC Radio 3) & Jennifer Farmer (Young Vic), and soprano April Koyejo (Royal Opera House Jette Parker Link artist).

Joanna Harries

Co-producer
& mezzo-soprano

Fiona Finsbury

Co-producer
& soprano

Laura
Attridge

Librettist

Jo
Brandon

Librettist

Daisy
Evans

Director

Jennifer
Farmer

Librettist

Ella
Jarman-Pinto

Composer

April
Koyejo-Audiger

Soprano

Charlotte
Marlow

Composer

Yshani
Perinpanayagm

Composer

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