Barnsbury opera head works with Python and The Police stars

Monty Python star Terry Jones and ex-The Police drummer Stewart Copeland are not people you would necessarily associate with opera.

But under Alison Duthie’s leadership, they are just two of the artists who have been involved in new works commissioned by the contemporary arm of the Royal Opera House.

Ms Duthie, who has headed ROH2 for more than four years, spends her days working with some of the brightest – and most unlikely – talents of the dance and opera world.

As part of her latest project Opera Shots, a series of experimental 30-minute operas, Jones directed and wrote the libretto for a Python-esque tale about a doctor, while Copeland composed a piece inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic horror.

Ms Duthie, of Huntingdon Street, Barnsbury, said: “The job gives me such a fantastic opportunity to work with people like that. I remember when I first spoke to Stewart Copeland, I was on the phone to his agent, and then I suddenly got patched through to him in Hollywood. I was having this chat about whether he would like to write an opera for us – and then he was here, in the rehearsal room. It’s great fun really.”


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The arts boss, who trained as a dancer at the London Contemporary Dance School in Euston, oversees the development of new works, taking ideas and seeing them through to the stage at the famous Covent Garden venue.

And with most projects taking around two years, she is juggling a whole host of works at any one time.

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She said: “The sheer excitement of the job is to be part of such a creative organisation, working directly with artists and with very skilled colleagues to create a new piece of work.

“It’s very satisfying thinking about what project might work two years down the line, and then seeing that process right through to the audiences coming in, and hopefully having a great time.

“It’s constantly exciting having things happening right now, but equally thinking about 2013 and 2014. It means we’re always multi-tasking!”

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