We’ll Never Let You Down: A cello-opera on Jacqueline du Pré

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This theatre and concert season Dutch Cello Sonatas and OT rotterdam present the cello-opera “We’ll Never Let You Down”. In the opera we observe two friends of the renowned cellist du Pré, one of the greatest cellists of her time. Tragically, she died at an age 42 of Multiple Sclerosis…   

In this triptych, two of Jackie’s friends stand by while the memories of their loving, talented friend are being tainted by gossip, rumors and slander. The stories do not reflect the way they remember the radiant Jackie and her unbridled passion and enthusiasm for music.

From a very young age Jackie played with famous orchestras and renowned conductors. At 28 years of age it was not possible for her anymore to play the cello, what in hindsight was caused by MS. And if this all was not tragic enough, a book (A genius in the family) and a movie appeared about Jackie’s life. The works garnered a lot of criticism, because Jackie was shamelessly represented as an erratic, selfish and demanding nymphomaniac. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and Jackie was not alive anymore to defend herself against these slanderous stories.

The opera is not only a tribute to and an attempt to rehabilitate Jacqueline du Pré, but also a story about pain after death of a loved one and the damage rumors, gossip and fake news can do. A subject that is more relevant than ever.

Composers

Initially, René Samson would compose the full opera. Sadly, he died unexpectedly in 2019. He left only the third act finished. Dutch Cello Sonatas decided the opera should go on and commissioned two young composers to write the two other acts. Mathilde Wantenaar wrote the first act and Max Knigge the second. Out of respect for their deceased colleague, the two composers have ingenuously incorporated themes and motives from René Samson’s act. This gives the opera a particular musical unity.

Review from the Parool newspaper:

Doris Hochscheid showed her unique qualities in We’ll Never Let You Down, which tells the tragic story of British star cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who had to stop at the age of 28 due to multiple sclerosis. After her death, her reputation was wrongfully tarnished by fake news. In We’ll Never Let You Down Hochscheid and Mattijs van der Woerd play in excellent English a couple that was a close friend of Du Pré and tells her life story. They are both musicians and actors; Hochscheid, in particular, makes a deep impression with the way she organically merges both roles.

Exceptional is that three composers wrote the music. In Act 1 Mathilde Wantenaar opts for beautiful, melancholic neo-romanticism, Max Knigge provides in Act 2 for stronger rhythmic impulses, beautiful melodies and a less evident tonal harmony, while René Samson (who was to write the whole opera, but died unexpectedly) in Act 3, when the story gets darker, makes use of far-reaching chromaticism with the accompanying dissonants.

Hochscheid, Van Ruth and Van de Woerd put down a completely convincing and at times poignant performance, which can make a name for itself internationally.

Musicians

Mattijs van de Woerd – baritone, friend of Jackie
Doris Hochscheid – cello, friend of Jackie
Frans van Ruth – piano

Dramaturgy & Design

Mirjam Koen & Gerrit Timmers – Direction & Dramaturgy
Gerrit TImmers – Stage Design
Gerrit Timmers – Libretto
Anne Vegter – Prologue Text
Jacqueline de Maat – Costumes

We’ll Never Let You Down was produced in collaboration with Cello Biënnale Amsterdam.

Read the article by Thea Derks