Emotional storms rage in this rarely heard English masterpiece by suffragette icon Dame Ethel Smyth.
The Wreckers is a story of doomed love, dark intrigue and clashing loyalties on the storm-battered coast of 18th-century Cornwall.
We find ourselves in the company of the infamous wreckers. These murderous land pirates were set on luring ships onto rocks, cargo into their hands and sailors to their deaths.
Smyth wrote the opera around the turn of the last century, just before starting her own dramatic journey with Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragette movement.
It was a journey that would end with a stretch in Holloway prison.
The idea for the opera came to Smyth while she was on a walking tour in Cornwall in 1886.
She returned again and again to visit shipwreck sites and interview anyone she could find who remembered the wreckers and had stories to tell.
Musically and dramatically, The Wreckers navigates the waters between The Flying Dutchman and Peter Grimes.
It is one of a handful of works from the early 1900s that signalled a confident new dawn for English opera.
Smyth blends fiery orchestral and choral set pieces and late romantic colour with keenly drawn characters and moments of chamber music intimacy.
The result is a powerful music drama that sails its own unique course.
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