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Melanie Challenger

Librettist

Biography

English writer and librettist Melanie Challenger made her Royal Opera debut in 2016 as librettist for Mark Simpson’s Pleasure, a co-production and co-commission between The Royal Opera, Aldeburgh Music and Opera North.

Challenger was born in Oxford and studied at Oxford University. Her first collection of poems Galatea (Salt, 2006) won the Society of Authors’ Eric Gregory Award and was nominated for the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. She was an Arts Council International Fellow for the British Antarctic Survey 2007–08, which she used as research for the non-fiction book On Extinction (Granta, 2011), winner of the 2013 Green Award. She co-authored with Zlata Filipović Stolen Voices (Penguin, 2006), on young people’s experiences during conflict, which is used by Amnesty International as a companion piece on their curriculum guide on human rights. Challenger is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Philosophy of Durham University.

Challenger’s work as a librettist includes James Whitbourn’s oratorio Annelies, adapted from the diaries of Anne Frank and first performed at Westminster Palace on the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust, and Simpson’s oratorio The Immortal for Manchester International Festival.

News and features

Watch: Lesley Garrett on her role in Pleasure – 'Opera is not a museum art form’

12 May 2016
Watch: Lesley Garrett on her role in <em>Pleasure</em> – 'Opera is not a museum art form’

The singer returns to opera with Mark Simpson’s new thriller, set in a gay bar.

Watch: Composer Mark Simpson on Pleasure – ‘As voyeuristic as it might be, we like to see human tragedy acted out on the stage’

11 May 2016
Watch: Composer Mark Simpson on <em>Pleasure</em> – ‘As voyeuristic as it might be, we like to see human tragedy acted out on the stage’

From drag queens to intense drama, the composer on why his new piece will appeal to both newcomers and seasoned opera-goers alike.

Opera Essentials: Mark Simpson’s Pleasure

6 May 2016
Opera Essentials: Mark Simpson’s <em>Pleasure</em>

Our quick introduction to Mark Simpson’s thrilling debut opera.