A one act multimedia opera, for three female characters and chamber ensemble 

  • 2010
  • 45 minutes
  • Click here for the libretto


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See and hear a digitally generated extract of the score

An extract from the first performance of The Yellow Dress by Opera at Home at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival in 2012.  To watch the full performance, see below:


Watch a recording of the first performance of The Yellow Dress (by ‘Opera at Home’ at the Tête à Tête opera festival).


I Ioved the opera … you have a particular gift for melody, and for me, I could have done with more of that … I found the whole theme of loss and the passage of time very powerful and moving. It worked especially well for me when the mother, daughter and the ‘portrait’ were on stage together, with the younger daughter frozen in time – perpetually young – and the others being ‘drowned’ by time and their sense of loss; I think her question (Hilary Finch, Times review 21 August 2012) about whether it was cutting edge or melodrama was trying to get at something about the mix of styles. For me, the mix of styles worked and felt organic. I guess I come back to: what story do you want to tell and how can you tell it most authentically?
Christina Muller Rees

I thought the whole thing fitted together so well and seamlessly. Some lovely harmonies, effective imagery and word-painting … the orchestra played well, some lovely writing.
Rachel Hilser Smith

Emotionally, I was more absorbed with the clash/dementia rather than the lesbian element … I think the mix of styles worked well to convey the mixed feelings of a carer/daughter … I think this production had a lot of depth and the harmony you chose helped to intensify emotions.
Krystyna Palamarchuk

I enjoyed the production and feel privileged to have been there at the performance. I disagree with Hilary Finch (Times review 21 August 2012), personally I didn’t need the projection to point up the sense of the sea, the music conveyed that perfectly, but I did feel that it greatly added to the sense of the tragedy. I think the opera has real potential and I hope that other groups give it an airing, preferably in modern dress!
Jonquil Yapp

The contrasting musical styles complement the lyrics at the time … Hilary Finch (Times review 21 August 2012) seems to suggest that the tonal nature of the music was something of a drawback. Very little music written these days is not tonal, and with the video sea backcloth, the sea connection in the music was pretty hard to miss! I think you should be very pleased with the way it turned out, good cast and very competent band.
Malcolm Crane

Congratulate Richard on his opera – it was quite a tour-de-force! I thought it was an excellent story – very simple but with plenty of powerful emotional content and ideal for opera. The running time fitted it nicely. I liked the instrumentation. At the start there was a suggestion of confusion which might have been that of the old lady. I enjoyed the rhythmic drive of the opening although I was ready for a change of tempo/mood. The vocal writing was very good and Janna Sutherland had a massive part which she carried off with sincerity and commitment. There was a recitative section between mother and daughter with just piano accompaniment which was particularly effective (waves on the backdrop).
Nigel Hayward, pianist, Shetland

I concur with Nigel on much of what he’s said about Richard’s opera, and the thing that came across loud and clear was the sincerity of both creative context and presentation. Personally, I wasn’t as keen on the orchestration as Nigel, it’s not my preferred sort of sound – I wouldn’t go to a concert of Stravinsky’s wind music, for example (and Richard’s music has a hint of flavour and colour of this style) – but that says nothing about the skill of composition, or the suitability of the music for the subject matter, which I found absolutely convincing. Lots of things were explored, and I noted such features of musical repetitiveness, anxiety, frustration, tenderness, confusion, which matched the theme; the opera for me worked.
Deirdre Hayward, vocal teacher, Shetland

“unexpected, moving, engaging”…audience comments after ‘The Yellow Dress’ at Riverside Studios
@OperaHome tweet 21 August 2012


‘The Yellow Dress’ is published by UMP.


  1. 18 August 2012: performed at the Tête à Tête opera festival at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, by Opera at Home. Director: Jose Gandia, Producer/Designer: Alexia Mankovskaya. Janna Sutherland (Daughter), Rosalind Stern (Mother), Alexia Mankovskaya (Lady), Karolina Kormiltseva (Girl). Andrea Kmecova (piano), Helen Manente (flute), Naomi Bristow (clarinet), Andrew Watson (bassoon), Julian Poole, James Turner, Tim Gunnell (percussion), conducted by the composer
  2. 19 August 2012: as 18 August 2012

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