My opera Margaret of Antioch, with a libretto by Christopher Loveless, was first performed in July 2004.
The opera tells the story of the martyrdom of St Margaret. The daughter of the High Priest of Jupiter, she has been converted to Christianity by the example of her nurse, just at the time when the Emperor Diocletian has renewed the ban on all religions except the official cult of the Roman gods. Margaret's father banishes her to the country, where she meets Olybrius, the son of the Governor of Antioch. Olybrius falls in love with her and asks her to marry him; when she refuses and reveals that she is a Christian, he has her thrown into prison.
On the night before her execution she has a terrifying vision of a dragon who swallows her. She makes the sign of the cross and bursts out of the creature's belly. The following day she is put to death for real and is received into Paradise, leaving her father, her nurse and Olybrius to ponder on their very different memories of her.
It is not clear whether or not Margaret was a historical person. If she was, she was martyred in AD 304. The opera was written to commemorate her 1700th anniversary.
Ten years after the premiere, Margaret of Antioch was performed again in a concert version, on 19th and 20th July in Warnham Village Hall.
Full score and vocal score are available (click on the links below):
These are taken from the 10th anniversary performance in July 2014. The English Arts Chorale conducted by Leslie Olive. Recorded at a live public performance, so there is a certain amount of background noise.
Lord have mercy, from Act II of the opera. The chorus pray for Margaret as she awaits execution in her cell.
Farewell duet. Margaret and Placidia pray together one last time before Margaret is taken away to be executed. Jo Browse (Margaret) and Briony Lambert (Placidia).