The opera is almost 25 years old – I wrote it for Scottish Opera who first performed it as part of Glasgow’s 1990 European City of Culture programme. Remarkably, the whole commission fee was underwritten by Glasgow District Council. After the premiere, the production (directed by Ian Spink, designed by Richard Hudson) toured Scotland and then visited Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and The Royal Opera House. It was also filmed for BBCTV. A couple of years later the opera received its US premiere at Opera Theater of St Louis in a production by Francesca Zambello and Alison Chitty. Two college productions have followed – at Glasgow’s RSAMD (now Royal Scottish Conservatoire) and just this year at Azusa Pacific Opera in Los Angeles – where faculty member Michael Lee created an ingenious 13-player version of the rather large-scale original score. Most significantly, in 2008 the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, performed a semi-staged version in the Barbican – and it’s the live recording of this performance which NMC are issuing on CD.
I’ve listed this production history in (no doubt tedious) detail in an attempt to combat the perception that modern operas have one production and then disappear forever. My impression is that many contemporary titles are making slow progress into the repertory, but they are not all Vanishing. However, nothing helps more than the availability of a commercial recording – which makes this a significant day in the 25-year history of The Vanishing Bridegroom.