Gill Jenkins

Jude the Obscure

A second work by Thomas Hardy is to be set to music.

An opera based on Far from the Madding Crowd will take centre stage at this year’s Thomas Hardy Conference and Festival.

Members of the London-based Travesty Players have revealed plans for a musical based on Jude the Obscure.

Members of the company dropped in to Hardy’s former home at Max Gate to gather some inspiration for the production.

Actor Stuart Boother, who is hoping to play the character role, said: “ We wanted to get the feel of Jude, the place where it was written and, of course, where it was set.”

Nicola Jane Buttigieg, composer and librettist of the work, said that the group were in Dorchester to look for inspiration for the setting of the work.

She said that the plan was to record the musical at two concerts in June before staging it at the Cockpit Theatre in London next March.

The Company is also planning to take the production to Yale University in June 2007.

“It would be great to bring it to Dorchester though, it’s all very exciting,” she said.

Mike Nixon, secretary of the Thomas Hardy Society, said: “The society is just as excited. It’s another way of delivering Hardy.”

The operatic version of Far from the Madding Crowd, which will premiere in Dorchester, is expected to be among the highlights of the biennial festival.

Composer Andrew Downes and his wife Cynthia, who has written the words for the opera, came up with the idea for the opera after a meeting with members of the Thomas Hardy Society, which organises the event.

The opera is being performed at St Mary’s Church, Dorchester, on three evenings – July 26, 27 and 28 at 8pm.

Tickets are £10 and will be available from Dorchester Tourist Information Centre as well as The Thomas Hardy Society, PO Box 1438, Dorchester DT1 1YH.

The conference gets under way on July 22 and continues until July 29.



"…his handsome looks do not make him appear like a villain … I was wowed by his voice!"