I have been asked by several colleagues whom I hold in high regard, why I have chosen to describe my new piece King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as a music theatre piece and not as an opera.
There is a long back story about my development as a composer and singer that can shed light on the matter. Here it is in a nutshell.
Many years ago, I had an opportunity to develop my skills as a creator of music theatre, with some support from the Arts Council of England. At that point in time, I learnt that music theatre is a form of contemporary art music driven singing drama that seemed to be open ended with regard to creative possibilities.
At the same time, I was studying singing. My singing teacher was highly supportive of my work and she attended performances of the music theatre pieces I composed and presented in those days, such as Early Morning Wahala – An Illegal Immigrant Speaks. She encouraged me to join an opera company for the first time, which took me on a whole new journey.
I am grateful for the all the experiences I’ve had in opera productions. I’ve learnt a tremendous amount about numerous details. Now, I have returned to my original chosen genre. It shares many things in common with opera, but is not aiming to simulate the cultural practices of those who claim that form of expression as their own. Opera lovers will find much to enjoy in King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, but the work doesn’t adhere to the conventions of operatic traditions.