Handel’s opera Partenope presents two strong female characters: an all powerful Queen who is the object of everyone’s desire, and a jilted lover who disguises herself to get what she wants.
In the world of the opera, gender roles are not what they seem: women play men, men play women, and women play women pretending to be men.
This project explored female power, using the central characters in the opera as a springboard to consider femininity in the modern world and the obstacles that women overcome to succeed. It brought together women from across London, including members of the ENO Community Choir and Streetwise Opera; performers from Mirth Control at the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World (WOW) Festival; English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners from Tower Hamlets College; and parents of pupils from Mulberry School for Girls. The all female community chorus worked with an all female professional creative team and professional artists to develop original material and stage extracts from the opera.
The project took place over a series of weeks between April and May 2017, and culminated in a public performance on Saturday 20 May at the Mulberry and Bigland Green Centre in Shadwell.