Dearly Beheaded, the first opera by Jamie Brown, was commisisoned and premiered by MusicTheatreNow! in Sheffield in 2004. Featuring an elderly, bedridden Henry VIII, the dying King looks back at his marital history as apparitions of all six wives visit him in his dreams. We see how each of them were divorced, beheaded or survived, and why...
The libretto is largely based on John Greening's poem Sestina for the Six Wives, but also features contemporary accounts of what the wives actually said (in English and Latin), Spanish by Rachael Burns and German by Aletta Bonn.
The role of Henry VIII was created by baritone Tom Carlisle, and the opera also featured Emma Nicholson as Catherine of Aragon, Honor Morton as Anne Boleyn, Ceri Matthews as Jane Seymour, Kathryn McAdam as Anne of Cleves, Holly Leonard as Catherine Howard and Carys Bishopp as Catherine Parr.
The Music and Language Network are working with Jamie Brown to revise the opera, making more of its linguistic diversity and adding a section in French - reflecting the wide range of languages heard in the English Court at the time.
More information on this project coming soon!