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Rommi Smith pens song-cycle with composer Emily Levi

Peepal Tree Press author Rommi Smith has developed a new opera with composer Emily Levy, featuring baritone Roderick Williams OBE and pianist Susie Allan.

The Rain is Coming is a response from a female perspective to Schubert’s classic opera Die schöne Mullerin (itself based on the poems of Wilhelm Müller), which premiered at Stratford on Avon Music Festival on 27 September.

This important new work came about after Williams and Levy were discussing the overall lack of autonomous female voices in the Romantic song concert repertoire and set out to offer a balance. Emily Levy and Rommi Smith have shifted focus from Schubert’s male protagonist, instead, through their words and music, giving voice to the untold story of the Miller’s daughter. Beginning where Schubert’s cycle ends, this modern, fresh work explores the Miller’s daughter’s dreams and desires. Trapped, haunted by the image of the dead Miller in the water, as she follows the river to freedom, she reveals the truth of her truest love. 

These new songs expand themes raised in the original work, adding a contemporary interpretation to the story. This unique mini song-cycle for voice and piano crosses both genre and artistic divides and offers a welcome new perspective on Schubert’s iconic work.

Emily Levy told Classical Source, “It has been an exciting adventure – and a privilege also – to get to know intimately the original cycle and then create a passionate and fully rounded character for the Maid of the Mill. From her one sentence in the original, she now has six songs where she tells of her perspective, full of wanderlust and desire, both mirroring and opposing the Miller’s words. It has been an illuminating challenge but not a difficulty due to both the clarity and excitement in Rommi’s words and Roderick’s immense capacity for empathy and communication alongside the beauty of his voice”.

Further performances will follow at Birmingham Conservatoire and other venues throughout 2018/19.

Rommi Smith is a poet, playwright, performer and librettist. She is both the Inaugural Parliamentary Writer-in-Residence and Inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Keats’ House, London. She is the John Barnard Doctoral Research Scholar at the University of Leeds and a Visiting Research Scholar at City University New York in 2017/2018.

Emily Levy is a singer and composer with musical influences that range from medieval to classical, folk and jazz. She is currently studying composition with Howard Skempton, Joe Cutler, Errollyn Wallen and Ed Bennett.

Roderick Williams OBE encompasses a wide repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music and is in great demand in opera houses, on concert platforms and in recital both in the UK and around the world.

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