Folk opera is a feast of song
The dynamic Lisa Pontecorvo is described as ‘a meteor with attitude’ in the song opening ‘Lisa – a folk opera’, to be presented in Edward Square N1 at 4pm on Tuesday 8th June, and in the Assembly Room, Islington Town Hall, at 7pm on Tuesday June 15th.
Cezanne Tegelberg will sing and act the role of Lisa. Rob Inglis, artistic director of Musical Flying Squad has set words to tunes from Scotland (where Lisa was born), Italy (from where the Pontecorvos hailed) and Switzerland (from where her mother came and Lisa enjoyed the family chalet). Lisa’s untimely death, crushed with her bicycle in Holloway Road is mourned in ‘Webside Tidings’ set to an eighteenth century arrangement of London street cries, and her achievements are celebrated in ‘As a Campaigner’ based on John Bunyan’s lyric ‘To Be a Pilgrim’.
The battle to save and enhance Edward Square for which Lisa is remembered, starts with ‘All our Green Spaces’ set to an Irish tune sung by Islington actress Cathy McMannaman portraying Sadie who alerted her community that the square was under threat of ‘development’.. The fight is taken up by Lisa in ‘Maybe it’s not the Leafy Side of Barnsbury’ and in ‘Petitions, Petitions’ backed by 150 students from Copenhagen and Blessed Sacrament Schools, who also sing ‘Edward Square – Hub o’ the World’. Sympathetic council leader Derek is portrayed by actor Kai Simmons in ‘Siege’, describing the disturbance caused by successive cross channel rail plans and contrasting this with the ‘wild and wise’ campaign for Edward Square. Caroline Granneu as Johanna Gibbons, landscape architect, sings ‘Consultation’ about incorporating community ideas into the planning of Edward Square.
Islington actor Clive Greenwood is Lisa’s brilliant geneticist father Guido. Laura Amy Meakin of Thornhill Square where Lisa lived, plays Lisa’s mother Leonore, and doubles as Jeannie, a conservationist who with Lisa and others campaigns successfully for the preservation of Victorian factories and dwellings in the Regent’s Quarter, retaining its distinctive character and charm. As well as Sadie, Cathy McManaman plays a cameo role as Anna, Lisa’s aunt.
Music will be played by two violinists and a cellist from The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment who knew Lisa from their work in schools which Lisa encouraged, and by three singing ukulele players – Luke Guilford, Kate Ward (who also plays Lisa’s friend Ruth) and Caroline Granneau.
The production is supported by Friends of Edward Square and funded by Cripplegate Foundation. For information: Rob Inglis 020 7387 4942 or artsxchange@btinternbet,com