Edward Rushton's The Shops, with a libretto by Dagny Gioulami, has been described as 'part satire on rampant consumerism, part psychological thriller': its central character, Christoph Schmalhans, is an obsessive stamp collector, stealing prize examples from museums with the aid of his girlfriend Francesca, who distracts attention by causing scenes. His activities inevitably attract the interest of the police and psychologists, and interjections from a support group of shopaholics.
Christoph Schmalhans is a collector. Each item in his collection has been individually stolen from museums and galleries.
Christoph works in a shop alongside his girlfriend Francesca. She helps his thefts from museums by causing disturbances which act as decoys. She goes shopping to spend the rewards Christoph gives her. Following his arrest, Christoph is interviewed by a stamp collecting policeman and analyzed by a psychologist. They report to Christoph’s trial.
Christoph’s father left his mother when he was still a child. He now lives alone with his mother, but refuses ever to allow her into his bedroom. When Francesca tells her about his arrest, his mother decides to destroy the collection.
The Opera Group
Darren Abrahams tenor - Christoph
Anna Dennis soprano - Francesca, his girlfriend
Phyllis Cannan contralto - Adele, his mother
Richard Burkhard baritone - Oliver, a police officer
Louise Mott mezzo-soprano - Cordula, a psychiatrist
Paul Reeves bass - Roger, retired journalist
Patrick Bailey conductor
Paul Plummer assistant conductor
John Fulljames director
'A witty, telling and rather timely critique of consumerism ... Rushton, a modernist by inclination, but one with a light and lyrical touch, writes beautifully for the voice, and Gioulami's libretto - which also makes space for a wonderfully parodic consumers' self-help group - does its job brilliantly. Patrick Bailey ably conducts the Opera Group's excellent performance.' The Sunday Times
This recording has been made possible with the support of the Peter Moores Foundation.
Recorded at Royal Opera House, London in collaboration with BBC Radio 3 on 21-22 September 2007.
Workshop development through OperaGenesis, an ROH2 initiative, developed in association with the Genesis Foundation.
PHILIP TAGNEY Producer for BBC Radio 3
DAVID LEFEBER Producer for NMC Recordings
MARVIN WARE Recording Engineer for BBC Radio 3
DAVID LEFEBER Editing and Mastering
Catalogue number: NMC D146
Release Date: 16 June 2008