I was at a superb talk given by Dr. Eva Griffith at the London Metropolitan Museum, about ‘Shakespeare’s Rivals’ a few weeks ago. During it we were allowed to look at the documents of the period, which were sometimes just little pieces of paper, that when pieced together told some of the social history of the time.
David and I were highly delighted when Jubilee Opera said that they would like to stage our opera as their main production of 2015. The opera was written very much with a company such as Jubilee Opera in mind. However to have it staged in the Jubilee Hall with such a prestigious company was a delight
“The Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh, Suffolk has become well known for staging the first performances of some well -known operas. The premières of Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Sweep..... Appropriate then, that the première of Jubilee Opera’s Little Drummer Boy of Waterloo by Megg Nicol and David Stoll should also première in this theatre”. Martyn Harrison - Seen and Heard International
It was the iconic image of a ‘drummer boy’ that can be found in many cultures right into the 19th Century that first caught our imagination when we came to writing the opera. Who were those boys? Where did they come from?
As we began to learn that the drum was seen as an important part of battlefield communication, with different drum patterns being used to signal commands to the soldiers in the field, the idea of writing about a drummer boy became irresistible. It was then our drummer boy took on a life beyond the battlefield.
Edward was apprenticed just like them from the Poor House, yet he ended up as a Drummer Boy Mascot for the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This made him a hero in their eyes...
It was also great to see the Waterloo Committee take an interest in what we were doing too and they really enjoyed the production.
“It was wonderful to see a sold out audience for The Drummer Boy of Waterloo. The play, the sets, costumes and music were all first class, as was the singing and acting, and you all deserve a huge congratulation for creating a great show!” Alice D Berkeley (Waterloo Committee)
Our working day , whilst writing THE DRUMMER BOY OF WATERLOO, always started with tea for me, coffee for David and a quick chat and catch up. Then before starting to write anything new we would sing through the opera playing all the parts ourselves until we arrived at the section we wanted to work on... improvising and feeling our way to an emotional response from our characters. What were they thinking now? How should we express it?
This practice actually stood us in good stead since David and I performed it all, just the two of us, ‘ Karoke’ style to Jeni- Wake Walker the Director of Jubilee Opera and Ann Barkway in the office of Novellos when it was being considered for this years production in November...and happily they liked it!
All photos on this page courtesy of David Hermon
We put together these clips from the video of the World Premiere of The Drummer Boy of Waterloo staged in Aldeburgh by Jubilee Opera in November 2015. It was actually filmed for archive purposes, however we hope that we’ve managed to captured some of the magic that was created on stage in this short promo.
Ok ...have a good laugh. You may be forgiven if you don’t recognise the person on the skateboard.....but yes it’s me...in my Children’s Television Presenting days. I should say my skateboarding skills have much improved since then. Actually, I was sent the clip from a friend of mine who had seen it on Twitter and it just reminded me, it’s always been difficult to avoid your past.