Image of a disjointed doll and phone for An Ocean of Rain
A Cryptic, Aldeburgh Music, Almeida Opera and Ensemble MAE co-production

An Ocean of Rain

Ticket prices: £6 - £27.5
Thu 10 Jul 2008 - Sun 13 Jul 2008

On the island of Haiti, Kiev, a young prostitute, witnesses the murder of a client and desperately seeks refuge from the authorities and her abusive husband . She returns to the girls' orphanage, run by Sister Delhi, where she once lived, but is refused sanctuary.

Three cosmopolitan women, New York, Cairo and Kyoto, make their annual escape to Haiti to help out in the orphanage. Their jaded bodies and souls begin to be re-awakened by the beaches and the challenges of helping the orphans. Kiev shatters the comfort of the women's lives as she throws herself into a violent expression of her misery. Circumstances culminate in the sea unexpectedly revealing its hidden strength and Kiev is left alone to continue the work started.

An Ocean of Rain is a new opera with music by the Anglo-Cypriot composer Yannis Kyriakides, libretto by Daniel Danis, directed by Cathie Boyd and performed live by Ensemble MAE from Holland.

Music Yannis Kyriakides
Libretto Daniel Danis, translated by Linda Gaboriau

Director Cathie Boyd
Design John Otto
Lighting Zerlina Hughes
Conductor Bas Wiegers

Choreographer Ben Duke

Video artist Julia Bardsley

Cast: Anna Dennis, Camille Hesketh, Gabrielle Hughes, Katalin Karolyi, Hyacinth Nicholls, Claire Prempeh.

Music performed by the MAE Ensemble

Visit the An Ocean of Rain microsite to find out more and watch the making of the show.

Download a synopsis of An Ocean of Rain


An Ocean of Rain is 1 hour 5 mins long with no interval

An Ocean of Rain opens the 61st Aldeburgh Festival [13-29 June] in Suffolk, has something to offer too: highlights include three performances by Artistic Director designate, pianist-conductor Pierre-Laurent Aimard; featured composer György Kurtág; and music-meets-digital arts festival ‘Faster Than Sound’. More on

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Anna Dennis – Kyoto
Anna studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Noelle Barker. She has previously appeared at the Almeida Theatre playing the title roles in The Girl of Sand (2003) and Ariadne (2002). Other opera work includes Monteverdi’s Orfeo (English National Opera/Chatelet), Ballo delle Ingrate (Birmingham Opera Company), Handel’s Sirde (Oper der Zeit, Austria), Edward Rushton’s The Shops (Bregenz Festspiel, Linbury ROH), Jonathan Dove’s Enchanted Pig (Young Vic), and Britten’s Death in Venice (English National Opera). Her concert work includes Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (Psappha, City of London Festival), Britten's War Requiem (Philharmonie, Berlin), Mozart Mass in C Minor and Beethoven Mass in C (Clarion Music Society, New York), and a series of 20th Century programmes with the Britten Sinfonia (Aldeburgh Festival/BBC Proms/Krakow). 
Camille Hesketh – New York

Camille completed her Master studies at The Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Netherlands. Since then she has been actively involved in commissioning and disseminating voice and electronics repertoire within the project Wiregriot, performing throughout The Netherlands, Belgium, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and the U.S, including the CCRMA concert series at Stanford University. She also performs baroque, classical and romantic work, including the premiere of 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade by Peter Hannan with the Modern Baroque Opera Company, Vancouver. She has collaborated with Talking Pictures Vancouver and STEIM Amsterdam on the New Media Pocket Opera in the Forum Neues Musiktheater of Stuttgart Opera, as well as many installations in The Netherlands. She is a member of the VocaalLAB Nederland, through which she has performed with the Nieuw Ensemble and Slagwerkgroep Den Haag. She has worked under conductors Daniel Reuss, Pierre Boulez, Marc Destrubé and André Richards.  


Katalin Károlyi – Cairo
Katalin has sung under the direction of conductors such as Yehudi Menuhin, William Christie, and Reinbert de Leeuw. She has performed at many festivals including Aix-en-Provence, Ravinia Chicago, BBC Proms and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has also appeared with leading opera companies worldwide including the Opéra National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Colon, and in concert at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore and Barbican Halls, London and the Cité de la Musique, Paris.
She has performed with Almeida Opera in La Infinito Nero and in the world premiere of John Woolrich’s The Sea and its Shore; other recent engagements include Aventures, Nouvelle Aventures (Lincoln Center New York); Folksongs with Psappha and London Sinfonietta (City of London Festival/Manchester); Tehillim (RIAS Kammerchor, Berlin); Windsor Jambs (Ensemble Intercontemporain); Les Noces (Kultur Ruhr Festival, Germany). She performed György Ligeti’s Sippal, Dobbal, Nadihegedüvel, a piece composed especially for her, with the Amadinda Percussion Group, Asko Ensemble, and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Hyacinth Nichols - Delhi
Hyacinth trained at Guildhall School of Music and National Opera Studio. Her performances include L'enfant et les sortileges, The Electrification of the Soviet Union, La Traviata, New Year, Carmen and Albert Herring for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Madama Butterfly, Orfeo, Samson and Dalila and The Magic Flute for Dublin Grand Opera; Aida for Opera Northern Ireland and Raymond Gubbay at the Royal Albert Hall; Dido & Aeneas as Syria’s very first opera (presented by the British Council and the Syrian Ministry of Culture); the world première of The Music Programme with Polish National Opera; Porgy and Bessin the Atlantic Pavilion, Lisbon, and at the BBC Proms; and Marriage of Figaro and A Midsummer Nights Dream for English Touring Opera. Most recently, she sang the role of Anna in Tobias and the Angel for the re-opening of the Young Vic and at the Oundle Festival. She has also performed with numerous internationally acclaimed orchestras and in a range of oratoria.
Claire Prempeh – Kiev
Claire trained at RADA and has since appeared in Drooping Palms, The Arsonists, and Rhinoceros at the Royal Court, As You Like It at Watford Palace Theatre, Generations at the Young Vic, and Orestes for Shared Experience performed at the Tricycle Theatre.


Yannis Kyriakides – Composer 

Yannis studied under Louis Andriessen at the Hague Conservatory, since when he has established himself as an international composer and electronic musician, collaborating regularly with ensembles such as ASKO, Maarten Altena Ensemble and Icebreaker as well as theatre and dance groups such as Hollandia and Leine and Roebana. His own group Circadian perform regularly in festivals around Europe and he is active in the live electronic music scene as an improviser, specializing in live processing. In September 2000 he won the Gaudeamus composition prize for his large scale work a conSPIracy cantata and in September 2006 Wordless was awarded an 'Honorary Mention' at Prix Ars Electronica.
Daniel Danis – Libretto 

Daniel’s work has achieved international acclaim with his first play, Celle-là (That Woman) being awarded the 1993 Governor General’s Award and named best new play by the Syndicat Professionnel de la Critique Dramatique et Musicale (Paris). Cendres de cailloux (Stone and Ashes) won first prize at the Festival International de Maubeuge (France) and was named best new play at the 1994 Soirée des Masques (Montreal). Its English version, by Linda Gaboriau, won the 1996 Governor General’s Award for literary translation. Le Chant du Dire-Dire (Thunderstruck or The Song of the Say-Sayer) was named the 2000 best new play by the Syndicat Professionnel de la Critique Dramatique et Musicale (Paris). Le Langue-à-Langue des chiens de roches (In the Eyes of Stone Dogs) was awarded the 2002 Governor General’s Award, and his last play E, roman-dit won the Grand Prix littéraire dramatique 2006 (France).
Cathie Boyd – Director

 Cathie studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and as the founder of Cryptic in 1994 she has produced and directed all their productions to date. Her work includes numerous international collaborations and has been presented at festivals in Europe and throughout the Americas. Her opera credits include Faust, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Simon Holt’s Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?, Sciarrino’s Infinito Nero, and Kurtág’s Scenes from a Novel. In 2000 she produced an international festival, Beckett Time. She directed the openings of the Royal Museum of Scotland, Glasgow’s Imax Cinema and Science Centre and the Glasgow City Halls with the BBC SSO. Last year she created live interactive visuals for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s performances of Stravinsky’s The Firebird in Baltimore and Washington, with future performances in Germany and Poland in 2008. In 2001 Cathie was made a Fellow of NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) to develop the visual staging of music through new technologies. She has also been awarded Outstanding Young Person Award Junior Chambers of Commerce 2003, European Woman of Achievement for the Arts 1999, and an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First for her production Parallel Lines in 1996.   

Ensemble MAE 

Since 1980 the Dutch MAE, formerly known as the Maarten Altena Ensemble, has developed itself from an improvisation collective into an ensemble that explores new musical and multidisciplinary territories.  Straddling a broad spectrum of experimental traditions, the ensemble of nine musicians has built up a repertoire of over 150 works written for its particular instrumentation by composers such as Robert Ashley, Richard Ayres, Allison Cameron and Steve Martland.  18 LP's & CD's have been published and performed worldwide.  Under the new artistic leadership of Yannis Kyriakides and Roland Spekle, the focus has shifted to a deeper exploration of the possibilities of expanding the sound world of an acoustic ensemble through live electronics and a desire to experiment with the way music is experienced through new performance contexts and the use of digital media.
John Otto – Set & Costume Design 

John trained in London on the Motley Design Course. His work for opera includes Carmen for the Nationale Reisopera, Holland; I due Foscari, La Traviata, Fidelio and Peter Grimes all directed by Monique Wagemaker; Wet Snow by Jan van de Putte, Der Freischutz directed by Marcel Seym, Handel’s Alcina for Vancouver, Idomeneo for Firenze, Belle Helene for Wurzburg, Ariodante for the Wexford Festival, Ireland, and Die Konigen von Saba by Goldmark for the Dortmund Opera. His most recent design for dance includes Sweet Spell of Oblivion for Royal Ballet Flanders, and Das Verschwundene and Bruckner for Dresden Ballet.
Zerlina Hughes - Lighting 

Zerlina graduated from Goldsmith's College in 1991 and also has an MA in Architectural Lighting. She has worked in theatre, opera, architectural lighting, television and film where she was assistant director to Mike Leigh. Theatre lighting designs include the National Theatre, the West End, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Lausanne, Citizens Theatre Glasgow, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nottingham Playhouse, Cheek by Jowl, and Actors Touring Company. Opera productions include Norrlands Operan in Sweden, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Reisopera in the Netherlands, Scottish Opera, Almeida Opera, London Sinfonietta, Opera Northern Ireland, Covent Garden Festival, Cardboard Citizens and Grange Park Opera. 

Ben Duke – Choreographer

Ben is the co-founder of ‘Lost Dog’ who were awarded the Bonnie Bird new choreographers’ award in 2005. Their work has been performed by the Phoenix Dance Theatre, From Here to Maturity, Edge, and Transitions Dance Company, as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe where it was nominated for a Total Theatre award. In 2006 Lost Dog were invited to be choreographers in residence at the MADE in Umea Festival, Sweden, their work was shortlisted for the Oxford Samuel Beckett award and they were invited to perform at the Sadler’s Wells Gala evening. Their most recent work, Hungry Ghosts will be touring nationally in autumn 2008.
Ben has also worked with the Oily Cart children’s theatre company, Maresa von Stockert’s Tilted Co., Punchdrunk, and the Gate Theatre; he has collaborated with Carrie Cracknell, artistic director of the Gate Theatre, on the critically acclaimed production of The Sexual Neuroses of our Parents, and in 2008 he will be working on Scottish Opera’s production of Falstaff.

Julia Bardsley – Video Artist 

Julia has worked as a filmmaker, visual artist, performer & director. From 1991-4 she was joint Artistic Director of the Leicester Haymarket & Young Vic Theatres. Her installations include Punishment & Ice-cream, The Error Display, Field, Avalanche Thoughts and the 12/stages Projects. Julia's films have been screened at the Edinburgh & Madrid Film Festivals, WWVF Amsterdam, Image Geneva, VAD Girona, 2nd Media Art Festival Armenia, and ActArt5 London; she also art directed Rolf Hind’s 2006/7 Solo Spotlights series for the SPNM; and has created three solo projects incorporating photography, video, object and performance. She was video, set & costume designer for Simon Holt’s Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm for Almeida/Aldeburgh Opera.

Articles & reviews

Director Cathie Boyd talks about the inspiration and ideas behind An Ocean of Rain in an article in The Times, 30 May 2008


Read article

An Ocean of Rain Rehearsal Blog

Read our An Ocean of Rain Rehearsal Blog. 

Deputy Stage Manager Dan Ayling tells us what's happening in the rehearsal room for this brand new opera: 

Week One 

We started the week with a meet and greet at the Union Chapel on Upper Street. This is an opportunity for everybody working on the production: cast creative team, technical team, press and marketing, to get together, say hello and introduce themselves to each other.

Mike Attenborough, the artistic director of the Almeida Theatre, made a short speech welcoming everyone to the Almeida. This opera is a co-production between the Almeida, Aldeburgh Festival and Cryptic, a Glasgow-based company, so there are a lot of people involved in this production who don’t normally work at the Almeida.

Cathie Boyd, the director of An Ocean of Rain and Cryptic, then spoke briefly about the piece before John Otto, the set and costume designer, presented a scale model of the set. The rest of the day was spent talking about the opera, reading the libretto and discussing life in Haiti, where the opera is set.

The remainder of Week One was spent with Cathie and Bas Wiegers, the conductor, talking to each singer individually about their character and singing through some of their arias.

Week Two

We moved to the Almeida Theatre rehearsal rooms this week and began blocking the opera – deciding when and where the singers move – and slowly piecing each scene together. This was interspersed with music rehearsals led by Bas, the conductor and Olly Rundell, the repetiteur (rehearsal pianist).

An Ocean of Rain is different to most operas as it includes a score of electronic music and ambient sounds on a soundtrack which accompanies the singers as well as the live music played by the six musicians in the orchestra. We spent quite a bit of time this week working with the singers to co-ordinate with the electronics and the live music.

Week Two has also seen John Otto, carrying out costume fittings with each of the singers. This is important as it is an opportunity for John to look at the singers in different costumes before deciding which ones are best and before alterations can be implemented.

By the end of Week Two, we have been through every scene and blocked it roughly so that everyone has an understanding of the basic shape of the show. 

Week Three

This is our final week of rehearsals in London before we travel to Aldeburgh where the opera will receive its world premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival on Friday 13th June. When we arrive in Aldeburgh we will spend two weeks rehearsing on the set with all the electronics, live music played by the Dutch ensemble MAE, and the video projection. With so many technical elements it is important we have enough time to work these together, otherwise who knows what a mess we’ll get in?!

This means our final week in London is focussed on the details of the singer’s performances. Cathie, Bas, the conductor and Ben Duke, our choreographer, all work on the finer points of the music and the staging.

On Tuesday we ran the first fourteen scenes of the opera – our first run through, and a great chance to see the overall picture; and to judge how the piece is developing. We ran through the final sixteen scenes on Wednesday before enjoying a company lunch at a local Thai restaurant on Upper Street.

Thursday morning provided us with our first full run through and a first chance for the singers to wear their costumes and get used to moving and singing in them. It was also our first run through with the video projection – the first time everyone was able to see the images that Julia Bardsley, our video artist, has created. In the afternoon we had a detailed notes session. These notes sessions are for the director, conductor and choreographer to give the singers notes on their performances; to help improve their work and the piece as a whole; and for the singers to ask any questions about sections of the opera they are still uncertain about. The run throughs are also a good time for everyone else involved in the production – the technical team, press and marketing – to catch their first glimpse of the show.

On Friday we had our final run through in the rehearsal room before packing up our music stands, scores and video equipment, loading it into the van for the world premiere at Aldeburgh.




An Ocean of Rain



Kiev - A young prostitute on the run

Sister Delhi - Fled to Haiti at 18 and now runs an orphanage

Cairo - Archaeologist

Kyoto - Doctor and lover of New York

New York - Architect

On the island of Haiti, Kiev, a young prostitute, witnesses the murder of a client and desperately seeks refuge from the authorities and her abusive husband. She returns to the girls’ orphanage, run by Sister Delhi, where she once lived. When refused sanctuary, she takes drugs to cope with her fear.
Meanwhile three cosmopolitan women, Cairo, Kyoto and New York, make their annual pilgrimage to Haiti to help in the orphanage. As the women tend to the orphans they explore their emotions, which are slowly re-awakened by their surroundings.
Whilst looking for Sister Delhi’s ring, Cairo reveals the grief she suffers for her child who died of leukemia and her husband who left her for another woman. Sister Delhi relates to Cairo through her own insomnia and constant worry that her orphans will be kidnapped and sold to traders.
Guilt ridden lovers, New York and Kyoto yearn for more time together, rather than focusing on their careers.
In desperation, Kiev shatters the comfort of the women's lives as she sets herself alight with petrol.  The women treat her wounds in the orphanage, avoiding hospital for fear of her husband finding her. Sister Delhi is torn, wishing she had been more kind but resenting Kiev’s selfish act, which has forced her to hide a fugitive, putting her orphans in danger.
While caring for Kiev, Kyoto reflects on her sense of longing for what is missing in her life. New York discovers Cairo in the middle of the night having nightmares and hallucinating the memory of her child. 
The four women make their way to the beach with the orphans then the Tsunami arrives. Body bags line the ground, unveiling the faces of the four women. The natural disaster has taken them.
As Kiev marks the anniversary of the women’s death we learn that the events we have just witnessed are Kiev’s memories of the past. 


Kiev is left to continue the work of Sister Delhi.


Arts Council England ASP Group