Fish: an opera

FISH: an opera by Joel Baldwin

Fish was commissioned by Bristol Opera for the company’s centenary celebration concert at Aerospace Bristol, premiered under the wings of Concorde on 24th June 2023.


Anne Harriet Fish (1890–1964) was born in Bristol in 1890. In 1923—after studying art in London and Paris—she finds herself at the height of a successful career as an illustrator for popular publications such as Punch, The Tatler, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar. Her flattened caricatures and satirical drawings of the Jazz Age are all the rage amongst the fashionable elite both sides of the Atlantic at this time. The opera begins with Annie sitting down with a copy of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which she is to illustrate. The text and images come to life in a dream of 11th-century Persia as its quatrains—sung by author Omar and translator Edward—converse with Annie and her most famous creation, Eve, the fictional gossip columnist of The Tatler magazine. As the story unfolds, we are transported into a world straddling extremes of location, style, art and music that, at once, questions and celebrates ideas of translation, culture and opera itself.


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