Philip Feeney (b.
Gothic romance developed out of man's fascination with the horrific, the
occult, and the power of innocence and goodness to triumph over the forces of
evil. Many would argue that Stoker's Dracula, is the finest example of
the genre, and Count Dracula, the supreme anti-hero, has an overriding sensuous
appeal that has endured and inspired film, television, and theatre productions
since its first appearance in 1897. To mark the centenary of Bram Stoker's masterpiece,
Northern Ballet Theatre has created the first ever British ballet version of
his most famous novel.
Christopher Gable and Assistant Artistic Director Michael Barrett-Pink drew
together a team of extraordinary talent, including composer Philip Feeney who
created this his second full-length work for Northern Ballet Theatre. This
innovative and inspirational composer has produced a new ballet score that is
romantic, majestic and spine-tingling – a combination destined to thrill.
Philip Feeney studied
composition with Robin Holloway and Huge Wood at Cambridge, and with Franco
Donatoni at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. His works have been
performed and broadcast throughout Europe, most notably at the Venice Biennale,
the City of London Festival and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
His first commission by Northern Ballet Theatre, was in 1987, when he composed
the music for Michael Barrett-Pink's ballet, Mémoire Imaginaire, which
was subsequently used by HTV in the film drama, A Chance to Dance. Since
then he has composed Danse Classique, Strange Meeting and Jazz
Concerto for NBT, and part of the three-act ballet Cinderella has
been recorded on 20th Century English Ballets for Naxos.
Jonathan Harker's mind
is flooded with images of his terrifying experiences in Transylvania.
Charing X Station
Mina and Dr Helsing
accompany Harker to the station as he sets off on his journey to see Count
Dracula. A mental patient, Renfield, being escorted through the station, causes
a disturbing incident.
Harker arrives in
Transylvania where he watches as villagers enact a violent ritual of
propitiation to protect their village from the dangers that threaten on All
Souls Night. The ceremony is interrupted by Count Dracula's coachman and
despite the desperate appeal of a bereaved woman Harker continues his journey
to Dracula's castle.
i) Arrival ii) 3
Vampires iii) Dracula & Harker
The Count welcomes
Harker into his home and having made him comfortable withdraws. Harker sinks
into a reverie and is visited by three women who both fascinate and terrify
him. His seduction is interrupted by an enraged Count Dracula who distracts the
vampire women with a blood offering. Dracula now begins his domination of the
hapless Harker. As the climax of their union approaches Harker's scream of
terror wakes him from his nightmare and he finds himself in the sanatorium with
his wife's arms around him.
The Winter Garden of
The Grand Hotel, Whitby
A Thé Dansant where
Lucy dances with all her suitors, in turn. The dance is interrupted by a
violent storm developing out to sea and at the height of the storm the figure
of Dracula appears on the terrace. The hotel guests are immobilised by his
presence, all but Lucy who is drawn to him. As the sound of the storm returns
Dracula disappears and Lucy is discovered dazed and almost unconscious.
Lucy is taken to
Helsing's clinic where her anxious fiancée and her friends visit her. As they
leave for the night Helsing takes the precaution of surrounding her with wild
garlic but this does not prevent a second visit from Count Dracula. Later that
night Lucy's lifeless body is discovered on the floor of her bedroom. The
heartbroken men grieve the loss of this beautiful young woman but as her
fiancée places a crucifix on her lips Lucy attacks him violently before
escaping into the night. She has become Nosferatu.
Mina, alone in the
sanatorium, thinks of the terrible danger that is hovering over them all. After
the departure of the men she and Helsing are startled by an escaped mental
patient, Renfield, who attacks Helsing and draws blood before being overpowered
by the wardens. Concerned for Renfield's suffering, Mina visits him in his cell
but is unable to comfort him. As she waits anxiously for the return of the men
she imagines, with horror, what her friend Lucy has become.
The men return, having
failed in their attempt to find Count Dracula, but later that night, as they
are sleeping, the Count enters Mina's room. Helsing discovers them as Dracula
suckles Mina with his own life blood but has no power to prevent the Count
escaping and taking the unconscious Mina with him.
Count Dracula has
chosen to celebrate his union with Mina in the vault at Carfax Abbey. His
heart-beat is the pulse that summons the Nosferatu to the ceremony. Renfield
has become the sacrifice and it is his blood that links the undead as they
dance in adoration of their master. As the celebrants prepare for the
consummation of the ritual, an explosion blasts through the crypt and daylight
floods the vault.
Dracula can withstand
the light but his power is diminished and his adversaries pursue him, finally
driving a stake through his heart. The survivors are left to count the cost.
Theatre was created in 1969 by Laverne Meyer with the intention of providing
quality performances of classical ballet not only around its home base of
Manchester, but also throughout Great Britain. The Company now has its
administrative headquarters in Leeds, West Yorkshire. In 1987 the noted dancer
and actor Christopher Gable was appointed Artistic Director of Northern Ballet
Theatre, following his appearance with the Company as the painter, L.S. Lowry,
in A Simple Man (choreography by Gillian Lynne, music by Carl Davis). He
developed a new artistic policy for the Company, concentrating on the
presentation of full-length narrative dance dramas, in which the impact of the
story told is every bit as important as the quality of the dancing.
The relatively modest
size of Northern Ballet Theatre, (34 dancers, 24 players in the orchestra), has
been challenging for the company's in its presentation of the traditional
repertoire. Nevertheless, with an imaginative and innovative approach to the
great classics the Company has enjoyed enormous success with productions of Romeo
& Juliet and Swan Lake. Its more particular claim to
attention, however, is with the creation of wholly new works. This innovative
policy has resulted in the regular commissioning of new ballet scores, one of
which is represented here. As with most ballet scores, there are passages in
this work where the interest is primarily dramatic – the items on this
recording have been chosen with the dual purpose of providing a memento for
those listeners who have seen the ballet, and a musically satisfying experience
for those who have not.
John Pryce-Jones was
educated at Penarth and Worcester, from where he won an Organ Scholarship to
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He has worked as Chorus Master / Conductor
with Welsh National Opera and Opera North and as Head of Music for Scottish
Opera conducting over thirty operas. For two years he was Music Director of the
D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, with whom he recorded The Mikado, Iolanthe, The
Gondoliers and The Pirates of Penzance. He has conducted the BBC
Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the City of Birmingham
Symphony Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Orchestra, as well as the Oslo Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony and Norwegian
Broadcasting Orchestras. He has conducted in Denmark, Iceland and the Czech
Republic and Germany. He has also been active in the Brass Band field. John
PryceJones is Artistic Director of the Halifax Choral Society and since 1992
has been Music Director of Northern Ballet Theatre.