Philip Venables


Alice was commissioned by the National Opera Studio in 2018 for the 12:40 project, celebrating 40 years of the studio with 12 newly-written short opera scenes for imaginary operas. Ted Huffman and I worked on this scene with the singer for whom it was written, Daniel Shelvey, a singer at the Studio that year. The intention of the NOS was that we, and the other composer-writer teams, would provide a crop of new arias that could be used by these emerging singers in auditions.

Ted interviewed Danny numerous times about his life and background. The interviews ended up focusing on his relationship to his grandmother, Alice, and so we decided to make the piece about his lasting memories of her, and sitting by her bedside as she was ill in her final days.

The 5-minute aria for voice and piano is unpublished; a score can be obtained on request. Danny subsequently sang our aria for the Royal Opera House in an audition, and subsequently was cast in their production of Monstrous Child. Brief fulfilled!