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Rambo: The Opera

David and Martin

Staff, students and visitors to the School of Music may have been slightly surprised – perhaps even startled – by some of the sounds coming from the Concert Hall late last year.

The School was the site for the premiere of a new production presented by the University’s Composition Performance Society and composed entirely by two music undergraduate students – Martin Humphries and David Roche.

Rambo: The Opera.

The life of John Rambo may not strike many people as prime inspiration for an opera but, as David explains, that’s all part of the fun. He said: “The contrast between the action-hero stereotype and the high-art of opera is ludicrous. It makes the opera very funny.”

When the initial concept came to Martin and David in April, they promptly booked the Concert Hall to make sure they couldn’t back out of the idea. Despite the lack of an escape route, not everyone shared their artistic vision.
Martin said: “When we began, no-one thought it could be done, but I think we wanted to show that it could be. The slogan on our first posters was actually ‘Yes, it really is happening’.”

And happen it did. Rambo: The Opera was performed to a full house on Friday 9 December, with all profits going to two charities, the Hospice of the Valleys and Brass Band Aid.  

With a running time of two and a half hours, thirteen principal singers, a chorus of 20 singers, a 35-piece orchestra and three ballet sections, it was no small feat to pull off. David explained: “It’s been exhausting but totally worth it. The problem is that we not only co-wrote, but also co-produced, staged and conducted. We didn’t give ourselves a lot of time either.”

 The logistics involved in getting students together to rehearse also proved tricky. Martin said: “We’ve only had about two months of rehearsal ahead of the live performance. Luckily, everyone is really adept at their instruments. We know a lot of them as well, and part of the fun of rehearsal was that we know the people the parts were written for.”