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Moonflower Opera

18 AUGUST - 19 AUGUST 2011, RIVERSIDE STUDIOS. A chamber opera inspired by the lives of Margaret Mee, a British botanist and artist explorer, and Chico Mendes, a Brazilian environmentalist and political activist. They take us on a journey full of magic, mysticism, human struggle and undying hope. The Moonflower, also known as the Queen of the Night, is hiding in the deep flooded forest. It opens once in a lifetime during the moonlight, only to die with the first morning ray of light. It takes courage, conviction and strength to find the Moonflower and to fight for the beauty of life.

Production: Berislav Juraic for Boii Theatre
Music: Mario Ferraro
Libretto: Eva Daníčková
Director: Maja Milatović-Ovadia

Tickets: £6/£4
Box office: 020 8237 1111
Online bookings: http://www.riversidestudios.co.uk/cgi-bin/page.pl?l=1308670448

Supported by Embassy of Brazil in the UK.
Showing as part of Tête à Tête Opera Festival (4 AUG - 21 AUG 2011)



A woman artist explorer and a man who died fighting for human rights meet in the afterlife. They look back on the one thing they have in common: love for the land of fragile beauty and great power which is hard to conquer despite the force of human greed and destruction. They reminisce about their lives, mainly their fight to preserve the mystical Amazon. Moonflower is a story of human struggle, cruelty and greed, but also of unimaginable beauty and strength of the human spirit.

Inspired by the lives of two remarkable people, Margaret Mee (British botanist and artist explorer) and Chico Mendes (Brazilian rubber tapper, an environmentalist and a freedom fighter), this chamber opera begins at the end. Margaret and Chico, who didn't meet during their lives, meet as souls who cannot rest. They have one thing in common - their love for the Amazon rainforest which they both tried to preserve. Their memories, hopes and fears, become the foundation of the stories and the poetry of The Moonflower.

The story consists of three tales, all inspired by the Amazonian rainforest. The Moonflower is the leitmotif, holding the whole piece together. A metaphor of struggle, fragility and ultimate futility of human life.

More about Margeret Mee:

Margaret Mee is remembered for her minutely detailed paintings of flowers from Brazilian forests. Her collection of Amazon flower paintings resides at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, near London. Margaret was born in England and trained as an artist in London. She moved to Brazil in 1952 and spent thirty-six years there. She was never afraid of calling for the conservation of the natural world, the Amazon forest, its animals and plants in particular. Margaret died in a tragic accident in England in 1988.

More about Chico Mendes:

Sometimes called ‘The Ghandi of the Amazon’, Chico Mendes was a rubber tapper who lived and worked in the Amazon rainforest. During the 1980's, Chico became a political activist interested in protecting the rights of the rubber tappers against the invasion of cattle ranchers. His struggle caught the attention of international environmentalists who saw Chico’s resistance movement as a fight to save the rainforest. Chico was murdered in 1988.

More about the Moonflower:

Strophocactus wittii, the generic name from the word strophe (twisting, curling) referring to the manner in which the flattened leaf-like stems wind themselves around Amazonian trees. Also known as the ‘Queen of the Night'. The generic name is derived from the Greek selene, meaning moon. The Moonflower opens very rarely and its blosssom lasts for one night only.

Margaret Mee found the Moonflower in a flooded forest and included its painting in her collections.