Fay Weldon wrote an opera

Fay Weldon wrote an opera


norman lebrecht

January 04, 2023

The prolific novelist, who died today aged 91, wrote an opera with Ilona Sekacz.

A Small Green Space had its northern premiere by English National Opera in Barrow Civic Hall, in 1989.

Those were the days.


  • David Sulkin OBE says:

    I was appointed co-director of the Baylis Programme at English National Opera in 1985. We commissioned A Small Green Space. The libretto was written by Fay Weldon with music by Ilona Sekacz. I directed and Alec Roth [composer] conducted. It was the first community work staged by a major UK opera company. We toured six towns and cities. Basildon, Bury St Edmunds, Barrow-in-Furness, Buxton, Glasgow and London. At each venue, the professional cast was joined by a large community chorus of young people.

    The true story was about a lad called Lester [played by Gary McGee prior to his training at GSMD] whose mother [Mary King] was ill. He undertook a campaign to prevent the building of a lavatory cleaning centre for the Channel Tunnel Link on Wormwood Scrubs which was home to a threatened species of insect. After a struggle with bureaucracy, the insects were relocated and, in principle, Lester had won his battle.

    Fay Weldon asked me, after the tour was completed, what the total cost had been. I hinted it was about £100,000. Fay, with her infectious flair and warmth, declared ‘A snip. An absolute bargain’.

    This was her only libretto. It was sharp, clever, and covered, ahead of their time, both ecology and mental health issues. It was a privilege to meet and work with her.