Opera set for a fairytale premiere

A LEEDS composer who penned an opera at the age of 21 is preparing for its world stage premiere in his home city.

Oliver Rudland, still only 24, was inspired by the Oscar Wilde story, The Nightingale and the Rose, about the songbird who sacrifices herself to make a young man happy, after tragically mistaking his superficial crush for true love.

Oliver's opera of the same name will be performed by Leeds Youth Opera (LYO) next week. Oliver, who grew up in Roundhay, began his musical life as a teenage trumpeter playing for LYO and the City of Leeds Youth Orchestra as principal for several years.

LYO musical director and conductor Mike Williamson, of Horsforth, described him as an "exceptional" talent.

"I said to him, if you ever write an opera, send it to me and I will see if we can put it on. That was around five years ago.

"You think nothing of it, then suddenly he turns up on my doorstep with a completed opera.

"Oliver is going to be a big name in the future."

The former Leeds Grammar School pupil, now nearing the end of his masters degree in composition at Cambridge University, said his opera was an eight-month labour of love in his spare time while he studied at the Royal College of Music in London.

"Because it was the first major work I had done it was very difficult. But no pain, no gain."


He is already working on his next opera and considering ideas for a ballet and music for a dramatic performance at the Edinburgh Festival.

Opera number two is The Fisherman and His Soul, again based on an Oscar Wilde story.

And while Nightingale is just one act, lasting around 50 minutes, he is now expanding into a two-act opera, and hopes to have finished the score by Christmas.

His first opera is being given professional direction by artistic director Jonathan Clift, founding member of Opera North, along with Mr Williamson, musical director of the LYO for the past 24 years.

They are staging it in the Kabuki style of theatre, a traditional Japanese form.

Oliver said: "I feel they have interpreted it in just the right way."

Sophie Levi, 19, of Horsforth, takes the lead role as the doomed nightingale.

Mike said audiences were in for a treat, describing Oliver's music as "very listenable and attractive.".

The Nightingale and the Rose is on a double bill with the rarely-staged Carmina Burana by Carl Orff at the Carriageworks Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday, at 7.30pm.

Tickets: 15, 13, 9 and 7.

Call 0113 224 3801 or go to www.leedsyouthopera.org.uk.