Scored for: 7 roles, chorus and (full orchestra) or (chamber ensemble)
Duration: 2 hours
Other Info: The Blackened Man written in 2001 is a two act opera which received recognition in the International Giuseppe Verdi Competition. The work was produced in workshop form at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio in September 2002 with the first fully-staged production at the Buxton Festival in July 2004.
It is a historical story of politics and human drama which narrates the fate of Jarrow miner Will Jobling, unjustly hanged for murder in the North East on England in the 1830s - story first explored by Will Todd and librettist Ben Dunwell in the 1997 Ballad of Will Jobling. Published by Tyalgum press, Isabella's Aria is also available as a separate vocal score.
”beautifully judged writing for interesting forces. While Stravinsky, Impressionism, Kurt Weill and Tippett all inform the score, Todd never merely clones, but absorbs, transfigures and masters his sources” Roderic Dunnett/ Opera Now/ 2004
“Many new British operas die on their first nights because their composers and librettists lack a clear grasp of how opera actually works. In the case of composer Will Todd’s and librettist Ben Dunwell’s new work,... The Blackened Man impressed with the confidence and insight with which its talented young creators handle the genre." George Hall/ The Stage/ 2002
“This gloomy tale certainly grips you for its two hours. Todd’s music is not hard to listen to, tonally based, sewn together with recurring motifs, notably a yearning, rising minor-sixth phrase that dominates Act II in various guises... Not much of an ad for labour relations, but an arresting human drama nonetheless.” Robert Thicknesse/ The Times / 2002
”Will Todd's score, expressive, colourful and melodic” Philip Radcliffe/ Manchester Evening News/ 2004
”Will Todd’s music is new to me, and The Blackened Man makes me want to get to know it better.... The most impressive thing was its pace, fluency and practicality. None of the arias or ensembles outstayed its welcome, and the opera’s two one-hour acts really gripped the audience. The imaginatively played two-piano reduction (with percussion) tantalisingly hinted at a vivid orchestral score, even in the Linbury’s tinder-dry acoustic. Todd’s choral writing (sung by London Voices) was especially luminous and the chorus cleverly integrated into the drama.” Peter Reed / The Sunday Telegraph / 2002
“A composer must entertain: that’s a sentiment passionately expressed by Will Todd whose opera The Blackened Man receives two performances in London next week, and it may surprise those who find it difficult to enjoy modern music. Being of their number (classical music post-Britten has little meaning for me), I can confirm that Will Todd may provide the exception to that rule.” Manuel Stimpson/ What's On/ 2002
“His latest showcase, The Blackened Man - staged at Covent Garden’s Linbury Studio in late September - was dressed in Todd’s own designer label of eclectic lyricism. The large-scale opera, which won second prize at the 2001 Guiseppe Verdi International Lyric Opera Competition in Milan, reflects another of Todd's interest: politics.” Muso/ / 2002
”In one of the many large, bright rehearsal spaces of the new, luxurious Royal Opera House, the final workshop run-through of a dramatic, gripping powerful new opera took place today, a month before its concert version world premiere.” Janos Gereben/ The San Francisco Post/ 2002