SHADOWTRACKS

(2007)

65'

Libretto by Christina Jones

Children's opera commissioned by W11 Opera


Late at night on a station concourse travelers try to make the last train. Sarah, a bag lady is gently evicted, and the station shuts. A steam train arrives bringing a Victorian crew on the Necropolis line, from Brookwood cemetery outside London. They rejoice in their old haunt, but when dawn comes, disaster strikes and the engine breaks down, leaving the ghosts stranded in the present. Vendors set up, and Sarah returns, rambling about a lost sister. The Promotions Team are trying to sell books about the Necropolis Line, and trainspotters Gerald and Nigel appear: Gerald falls in love with Sophie, and Nigel is haunted by the ghostly line. Sarah takes us back to 1940 and a crowd of Evacuees queue up for a train. Young Linda doesn't want to leave without a sick sister, Sarah, and leaves her teddy bear for her mother to pass on. In the present, Sarah remembers her mother telling her a story of station ghosts who stole her teddy. The stranded ghosts start to cause trouble in the present and some intervene to help stranded passengers. The ghostly station master summons spirits from World War 1 who lament their lost lives. The engine is still not fixed. Bessie Boots is furious at the slow turnover of Necropolis Line books, so Gerald buys a large pile. The Victorian stationmaster calls on Lightning and Filch to smarten Gerald up to impress Sophie. Old Sarah sees the ghost of her mother and the Horrid children are persuaded to give back the stolen teddy bear. Linda, now an old woman, passes by with her granddaughter, and the Station Clock effects a resolution. The engine is mended, the ghosts depart, and the opera ends in the present, late at night, with travelers running for the last train. Sarah is no longer there. 


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Premiere: 15 December 2007. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London SW7

 

Director: Anniliese Miskimmon

Conductor: Philip Colman

Designer: Neil Irish (sets) Mike Lees (costumes) 

Choreography: Maggie Rawlinson

Lighting: Stephen Ley


Sarah - a bag lady

Linda

Gerald and Nigel - trainspotters

Spirits of the Clock - 4 voices

Bessie Boots, Sophie and Tracy - promotions team

Station Guard and voice of Tannoy

Linda's granddaughter

Victorian Stationmaster, Engine Driver, Guard and Porter

Lightning and Filch, pickpockets

Flower Girl, Newsboy and Urchins

Woman in a Red Coat

Bucket and Spade family

 

Clubbers, Ticket Sellers, Vendors, Ascot goers, Arsenal fans, Horrid Victorian Children, Suffragettes, World War 1 soldiers and nurses, World War 2 Evacuees - wardens, mums and children


Flute+picc, clarinet+bass cl, horn, 'cello, bass, piano, harp, percussion