Although I have produced all the photographs for one book and have contributed images to several others, ELEANOR VALE is my first outing as a publisher - through Kailash Multimedia, in association with Envisage Books, of London. This book tells the story of the making of a community opera in the rural village of Wedmore, in south-west England.
Wedmore Opera commissioned the music and libretto of ELEANOR VALE to celebrate a quarter-century of high-level creativity. In its fifteen productions the company has brought together top professionals with enthusiastic amateurs, and has established a national reputation. In this special commission the composer John Barber and librettist Peter Cann recreated a Wedmore of 1900. It was then an isolated farming community on the mysterious wetlands of the Somerset Levels and Moors. But theirs is not a nostalgic story of simpler, more peaceful times.
As I say in the book, "Eleanor Vale20 is a revolutionary. Young, vital, sexy even, she bursts into a small, claustrophobic community to toss a bombshell of change. That may not have been her intention but, like many revolutionaries, she is provoked into action by her rage at injustice and corruption, secrets and lies... She seeks nothing less than the truth. And, when she finds how the truth that she uncovers has cursed her own life, she plots her revenge."
The demanding and emotionally rich role of Eleanor is sung by Sarah Minns, who played her first role for Wedmore Opera, as a school student, a dozen years ago:
“I so appreciate what the people of Wedmore do collectively, their commitment to what they can achieve and their care for detail. It doesn’t matter whether it’s someone’s job to sing a role, give someone a lift, or paint a set, everyone does whatever it is with the same
pride and passion."