Luke Bedford: Through His Teeth

Luke Bedford Through His Teeth
Through His Teeth

Luke Bedford: Through His Teeth

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for three singers and eight players
Luke Bedford
David Harrower
Interviewer and Sister - Mezzo-Soprano A (woman) - Soprano R - Baritone
Instrumentation details:
clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb)
trumpet in C
double bass
Composition commission by The Royal Opera, funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. Additional commissioning and production costs generously supported by the John S Cohen Foundation and the Boltini Trust.
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

In June 2013 we conducted a video interview with composer Luke Bedford about his chamber opera Through His Teeth, which was commissioned by the Royal Opera House and premièred on 3 April 2014.

Intrigued by the composer’s words, we decided that we’d continue to document the work’s process of creation, providing readers with regular updates regarding the development of Trough His Teeth, ranging from the composing of the score and the writing of David Harrower’s libretto to the actual printing of the score and its production. Find out more on our Through His Teeth blog.

Bedford's Opera received a delightful SWR studio recording of the Opera Factory Freiburg and Holst-Sinfonietta conducted by Klaus Simon. This first recording was released by the label "bastille musique".

Special prints

Through His Teeth

Luke Bedford: Through His Teeth

study score
for three singers and eight players , 60’

World première

Linbury Studio Theatre, London (GB)
Chroma Ensemble
Sian Edwards
Main soloists:
Victoria Simmonds, MS; Anna Devin, S; Owen Gilhooly, Bar

Press reviews

Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go.

(Anne Ozorio, Opera Today, 09.04.2014)

Short, pithy and smart, Through His Teeth managed that elusive feat of being at once gripping and amusing. […] Bedford’s score is surely his most accomplished so far, often turning down the aural volume as the drama grows noisier – to bracing effect.

(Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 06.04.2014)

Bedford sets Harrower’s directly phrased text fluently, infusing his vocal lines with a strong sense of character and situation. The musical-dramatic pacing is swift and almost cinematic – an aspect reinforced by the use of screens with multiple CCTV images placed at the back of the stage, which show us the physical ambience of each scene.

(George Hall, The Guardian, 04.04.2014)

It's a shame that Through His Teeth has only been scheduled for four performances as it deserves a far wider audience. An unqualified success, Through His Teeth looks set to become a modern classic, and is certainly the most ambitious and successful of recent new operas that have been seen on the London stage.

(Keith McDonnell, WhatsOnStage, 10.04.2014)

As music, it manages to be atmospheric and seductive while still pushing the edges of sound art, becoming increasingly disharmonious as the situation becomes more extreme. Composed by Luke Bedford, it will surely be produced by other opera companies in the future as it contributes both to what opera is and to the enduring moral tangle of Faust.

(Eleanor MacFarlane, The Upcoming, 04.04.2014)

Bedford’s score is appropriately tense, explosive, and fragmentary, uncertain in movement and devoid of any conventional lyricism. Charm is not on its aesthetic agenda: exploiting quarter-tones and the sonorities of accordion and percussion, it seems charged with the restless urban angst that fuels Harrower’s libretto.

(Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 04.04.2014)

There might seem to be a mismatch between Harrower’s words (mundane, lots of swearing) and Bedford’s score (subtle, spare, elusive). But the music draws otherworldly sounds out of its small band of harp, accordion, percussion and others, and adds the extra layer of mystery that sets the imagination spinning.

(Richard Fairman, Financial Times)

The vibrant accompaniment of contemporary chamber orchestra CHROMA is a key element of the success in this production, fulfilling the intensity and the surprising lightnesses of the score and pushing the cast on to greater emotional heights.

(Laura Peatman, A Younger Theatre, 05.04.2014)

If there’s one thing you need to see this week, this is it.

This is not the first opera from Luke Bedford […] But it is easily his most impressive - and I hope the comparative ease of staging the score will lead to further productions in future, perhaps from students.

(Intermezzo, 07.04.2014)


Libretto by David Harrower

Libretto by David Harrower

Through His Teeth © 2014 Libretto by David Harrower

All rights whatsoever in the Libretto are strictly reserved and applications for performance etc. must be made to Casarotto Ramsay [&] Associates Ltd. 7-12 Noel Street, London W1F 8GQ. No performance of the Libretto may be given unless a licence has been obtained prior to rehearsal.

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