Austin Lyric Opera (Mark Matson)

Austin Lyric Opera (Mark Matson)

“It can be summed up in one word: charm. Dove writes music that is tuneful, tonal and tangy. And it is sensationally orchestrated. In short, it’s instantly beguiling.”Richard Morrison | The Times


Flight is that rarest thing, a popular new comic opera… Dove’s music flies, the opera is fun, and people are going to love it.”Tom Sutcliffe | The Evening Standard


An Opera in Three Acts

Libretto by April de Angelis

Commissioned by Glyndebourne

World Premiere: Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Glyndebourne, 24 September 1998

Jonathan Dove’s breakthrough work, Flight, was commissioned by Glyndebourne and premiered there in 1998 with further performances in 1999 and 2005. The question from the then General Director, Anthony Whitworth-Jones, was whether Jonathan Dove could create ‘A Marriage of Figaro for the 1990s’. And the answer was a superb original modern-day operatic comedy which has found universal popularity, with many different productions and over 85 performances to date across the world.

With a libretto by leading British playwright April de Angelis, the opera has both laugh-out-loud and more serious moments as the story of the refugee who lives in the airport – inspired by the true-life story of an Iranian refugee who lived at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, for 18 years – unfolds around the different characters who find themselves delayed in the terminal.

Written for an ensemble cast of 10 singers, this opera, with its dynamic airport setting and scintillating orchestral writing – including the thrilling aeroplane take-off – continues to have a compelling immediacy.


Act One – Dawn: and the Controller sits in her tower. People start to arrive at the airport – for the Refugee to `befriend’: a married couple, Bill and Tina, are going on holiday to rediscover romance; the Older Woman is meeting a young man whom she met in Mallorca – she would like to remain inconspicuous; the Steward and Stewardess go about their business – some of the time. Another couple arrive, almost late for their flight to Minsk, to emigrate; the Minskwoman is pregnant. At the last moment she refuses to board the plane and her husband leaves without her. The Refugee offers her a magic stone to comfort her. The travellers are preparing to depart when the Controller announces that, because of storms, flights are indefinitely delayed.

Act Two – Night: the storm rages. The Controller leaves her tower and wanders about outside. Everyone tries to sleep, but, in pairs or alone, they secretly approach the Refugee, fascinated by his magic stone. He gives them all what each thinks is the unique stone and they make wishes. Bill is restless and seeks out the Stewardess, but finds the Steward instead: they go off to explore the control tower. The women and the Refugee decide to get drunk, and, as they become more garrulous, the women discover that each of them has `the’ stone. They vent their anger, with dire consequences for the Refugee. The consequences of Bill and the Steward’s explorations are no less cataclysmic.

Act Three – Dawn: the storm abates, flights resume. The Minskman returns, unable to face his separation. Bill and the Steward have a surprise for their partners. Tina has a nasty surprise for Bill. The Refugee has a surprise for the women. The Minskwoman has a surprise for everyone. When the Refugee tells his story, even the Immigration Officer has a surprising reaction. Flights are called and under the Controller’s watchful eye, the airport returns to normal…

Production History

Glyndebourne Touring Opera, UK, September to December 1998

Glyndebourne Festival Opera, UK, August 1999

Nationale Reisopera, The Netherlands (Glyndebourne production), November to December 2001

Vlaamse Oper, Belgium (Glyndebourne production), February to March 2002

Opera Theatre of St Louis, USA (New production by Colin Graham), June 2003

Oper Leipzig, Germany (New production by Ralf Nürnberger), sung in German translation by Ralf Nürnberger, April 2004

Boston Lyric Opera, USA (St Louis production) April to May 2005

Glyndebourne Festival Opera, UK (Revival), August 2005

Moores Opera Center, USA (New Student production), January 2006

State Opera of South Australia, Adelaide Festival, Australia (Glyndebourne production), March 2006

Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, UK (New Student production), June 2006

Pittsburgh Opera, USA (New production), January to February 2008

British Youth Opera, UK (New production), September 2008

UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, USA, April to May 2010

Austin Lyric Opera, USA (Pittsburgh production), April 2011

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, UK, June 2013

Opera Fayetteville, USA, January 2014

Opera Holland Park, UK, June 2015

Mannes School of Music, USA, May 2015

Julliard Opera, USA, November 2016

Opera Parallèle, USA, February 2017

Theaterakademie August Everding, Germany, February 2017

Opera Omaha, USA, April 2017

OPERation, Switzerland, May-June 2017


Duration, Technical Information and Resources

Flight (1998)

Opera in Three Acts | 135 minutes

Libretto by April de Angelis

German singing translation by Ralf Nürnberger

2S.3Mez.CT.T.2Bar.B Soli

2(I+II=Picc).2(II=CA).2(II=BCl).2(II=CBsn)——Timp—3Perc—Pf(Cel)—Hp—Str( minimum)

Commissioned by Glyndebourne

First performed 24 September 1998, Glyndebourne Opera House, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, directed by Richard Jones and conducted by David Parry

Best Opera – 2006 Helpmann Awards, Australia

EP 7511

Recording: Jonathan Dove, Flight, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Parry, Chandos CHAN 10197(2)

Vocal score available


Refugee Countertenor
Controller Coloratura soprano
Bill Tenor
Tina Soprano
Older Woman Mezzo-soprano
Stewardess Mezzo-soprano
Steward Baritone
Minskman Baritone
Minskwoman Mezzo-soprano
Immigration Officer Bass


Austin Lyric Opera (Mark Matson)

Austin Lyric Opera (Mark Matson)

Glyndebourne (Mike Hoban)

Glyndebourne (Mike Hoban)

Glyndebourne (Mike Hoban)

Glyndebourne (Mike Hoban)

Glyndebourne (Mike Hoban)

Glyndebourne (Mike Hoban)

Austin Lyric Opera (Mark Matson)

Austin Lyric Opera (Mark Matson)


Act 1: Look! Up there.

Act 1: That’s us. Is that us?

Act 1: Look! The plane is moving now.

Act 2: I bought this suitcase in New York.

Jonathan Dove Flight Glyndebourne Festival Opera / London Philharmonic Orchestra / David Parry CHAN 10197(2) • Courtesy of Chandos Records Ltd. www.chandos.net


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqageoBkYRQ]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uf5pEa1lXg]


For further information


General enquiries; commissioning, perusal and performance material; first point of contact UK and English-speaking territories outside Americas; principal composer contact:

Katie Tearle, Director of New Music
Tel: +44 (0)20 7553 4033   Email: katie.tearle@editionpeters.com

General enquiries; commissioning, perusal and performance material; first point of contact German-speaking territories:

Stefan Conradi, Neue Musik Promotion / Konzert, Bühne, Medien
Tel: +49 (0)69 63 00 99-41   Email: stefan.conradi@editionpeters.com

General enquiries, commissioning, perusal and performance material, first point of contact Americas:

Gene Caprioglio, Vice President for New Music and Rights
Tel: +1 (718) 416-7822   Email: gene.caprioglio@editionpeters.com

Media and rights enquiries:

Andrew Kemp, Head of Business Affairs
Tel: +44 (0)20 7553 4031   Email: andrew.kemp@editionpeters.com
C.F.Peters Ltd. & Co. KG
Hedderichstraße 108–110
60596 Frankfurt/Main
Tel: +49 (0)69 6300990
Email: stefan.conradi@editionpeters.comLondon
Peters Edition Ltd
2–6 Baches Street
London N1 6DN
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 75534033
Email: katie.tearle@editionpeters.comNew York
C. F. Peters Corporation
70–30 80th Street
Glendale NY 11385
Tel: +1 718 4167800
Email: gene.caprioglio@editionpeters.com