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Reviews in for Gavin Higgins’s ‘The Monstrous Child’

Reviews in for Gavin Higgins’s ‘The Monstrous Child’

  • Date05 March 2019

The new opera’s recent run at the Royal Opera House has received critical acclaim.


Marta Fontanals-Simmons as Hel in The Monstrous Child. © 2019 Royal Opera House. Photograph by Stephen Cummiskey

The Monstrous Child was commissioned by the Royal Opera House and is based on a novel by Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry books. It is an imaginative piece of theatre, with striking puppetry, aimed particularly at teenage audiences.

The ROH’s premiere production, in their newly refurbished Linbury Theatre, ran from 21 February – 3 March. It had a tremendous reception, including four-star reviews from The GuardianThe ObserverThe TimesThe Stage, and Bachtrack. The Department of Music’s own Mark Berry also reviewed it on his blog, Boulezian, writing that it was ‘certainly a successful first opera’, and commenting on the music as follows:

Higgins offers much in the way of readily associative and memorable leitmotifs in his score, as well as plenty of ‘atmosphere’ and ‘action’, after a fashion that would surely make sense to teenagers – and others – accustomed to the ways of film scores, without ever sounding ‘like’ film music.

The piece is Gavin Higgins’s first opera. Its success follows the recent premiere of the composer’s trombone concerto by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Gavin is in the final stages of a PhD in composition at Royal Holloway, but is already an established British name.

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