About this Recording
8.553964 - FEENEY: Dracula

Philip Feeney (b. 1954)

PREPARE YOURSELF. 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.

Artistic Director 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.

Castle Dracula
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.

The Sanatorium
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's Room
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.

The Crypt
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.

The Death
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.

Northern Ballet Theatre
Northern Ballet 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
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.

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