Published: 20 October 2016

Conductor highlights work of Surrey composer

Odaline de la Martinez, who graduated with an MMus in Composition in 1977, is the conductor on a newly-released CD recording of Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate, by Retrospect Opera.

Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was a Surrey-based composer about whom the University has hosted events in the recent past and commemorated the 75th anniversary of her death with a concert in her home town of Woking.

The Boatswain's Mate, first performed in 1916, was far and away the most popular of her operas and, between the wars, was often performed. It is a wonderfully tuneful and funny work, using folk music to evoke English rural life. Smyth was a close friend of Emmeline Pankhurst. She had been strongly involved with the suffragette movement immediately before she composed The Boatswain's Mate, and it's generally considered her most feminist opera.

Odaline pursues a demanding and successful career. In 1984, she became the first woman to conduct a BBC Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Since then she has been invited to the Proms regularly, including a special performance in 1994 of Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers. More recently, she was a member of the celebrity University Challenge team captained by Professor Jim Al-Khalili!

For more details on the opera, visit Retrospect Opera’s website

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