Narrow rooms  (2019) 60'  Download PDF

chamber opera in one act (five scenes)

Chamber opera based on James Purdy's novel Narrow Rooms to a libretto by Michael Finnissy

I'll be there for you  (2000) 15'  Download PDF

sop, mez, ten, bar, pf

commissioned by English Touring Opera

Mini opera with original libretto by Mark Ravenhill

The Juniper Tree  (1993) 40'  Download PDF

sop, mez, ctn, bar, fl/picc, cl/ecl/bcl, bn/cbn, trb, perc, vn/va, vc

for Keith Turnbull & John Hess

First performance: 17 July 1993, Broomhill Festival

Libretto by Dic Edwards from a tale collected by the Brothers Grimm.

"Toovey concentrated on achieving a fluent narration, moving in and out of actuality and dreamlike sequences with sureness and conviction. From the opening viola solo to the final song of the bird, his score was rich in reference to folk music the opera was well made and striking." The Guardian

"The Juniper Tree presents impeccable credentials concerning its integrity as theatre. Toovey's style is hard-edged and brutal, but laced with moments of unexpected sonic beauty planned in terse, explicit blocks of sound that eschewed transition for the tactics of shock therapy, the style proved a perfect match." The Independent

"The music is of rare lyrical intensity, plus very sensitive and rewarding writing for the voice. The structure of the opera itself kept a very tight hold on tension and momentum." Opera Now

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Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4

Recording available on Largo 5141

Published by Composers Edition

The Juniper Tree

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Ubu  (1991-92) 90'  Download PDF

col, sop, mez, alt, ctn, ten, bar, fl/pic/afl/bfl, ob/ca, cl/ecl/bcl/cbcl, bn/cbn, hn, tpt, trb, perc(2), vn, vc, db

for my mother, Margaret Toovey

First performance: September 1992 St David's Hall, Cardiff Music Theatre Wales

Opera in two acts (five scenes) Text: Michael Finnissy and Andrew Toovey, after Alfred Jarry's 'Ubu Roi' (German translation available)

"No sound from grand opera down to end of pier band and organ grinder seems alien to Toovey's industrious mill which he grinds up for his own busy purposes. The writing is full of tongue-in-cheek parody and allusion so it keeps you on your toes as the knockabout action unfolds!" The Stage

"The intention seems to have been to write an Offenbach comic opera for the 1990's, something wittily street-wise and shocking, yet at the same time politically relevant Perhaps the tale of the terrible Ubu's does have an awful resonance for our own times." Opera Magazine 1993

"...nor is there any moral to be drawn or theatrical action to be savoured: none of the characters develops, none suffers or learns, and nothing here offers any dramatic interest above the level of a Punch and Judy show." The Times

"Pa Ubu is presented in a permanent state of priapism (his huge viridian penis literally dwarfing every other cast member); Ma Ubu is the strapping charlady of a thousand Monty Python sketches. An endless parade of the kind of hackneyed and weary jokes the pre-prep school boys find vastly entertaining is offered for the delectation of the audience." Opera Now December 1992

"Toovey has matched the action with music which, though not elegant, befits the subject and frequently goes right over the top. Although Ubu is unlikely to shock any but the primmest of audiences these days, the sheer anarchic schoolboy humour of it completely bypasses artistic or political correctness." Tempo Jan 1993

"The 30-year-old Toovey shows a chameleon-like brilliance, capable of moving his score seamlessly from soaring melody to extreme dissonance to cunning parody and pastiche." Calgary Herald September 1992 - Canada

"...In the final analysis, it all comes down to sheer bawdiness and it works marvellously." South Wales Echo September 1992

"From the moment the opera opens, with a bored Ma Ubu filing her nails while her husband trying to make use of that green appendadge, the tone for the evening was set. When the Ubus and Captain Crap sit down to a meal of excrement the second main thrust of the piece is established. The rest of the show revolves around these two obsessions, with exaggerated antics and caricature in abundance, producing a bizarre political pantomime." Western Mail Sept 1992

"All Toovey can do is to add digestible trimmings." The Guardian September 1992

"No sound - from grand opera down to end of pier band and organ grinder - seems alien to Toovey's industrious mill which he grinds up for his own busy purposes. The writing is full of tongue-in-cheek parody and allusion so it keeps you on your toes." The Stage Oct 1992

"His Ubu, though parasitic, is high-spirited and dexterous, worth listening to." The Observer September 1992

"A singing Ubu? The idea is a joke, and one of the jollities of Andrew Toovey's first opera is its smiling, shrugging acceptance that the whole thing is a bit of a lark. Toovey uses an ensemble largely of wind and percussion to show off a fine feeling for screams, bellows, farts and whistles. Otherwise his main way of dealing with Ubu's anarchism is through parody, with knocks at operatic repertory from Handel to John Adams. All is skilfully done, and the pace is as swift as it has to be for a shuttle of musical on-liners: if ever a number threatens to go on too long. Pa Ubu is there with an appropriately abusive comment." Times Literary Supplement. October 92

Extract from Saarbrücker Zeitung (1994) Download review (PDF)

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The Spurt of Blood  (1988-90) 25'  Download PDF

sop, alt, ctn, cl/ecl/bcl, trb, perc(1):xyl/vib/crot(2octaves)/2gongs/cym/hi-hat/BD, vc

dedicated to Henrietta and Simon Chidgey

First performance: 8 August 1998, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada

Music theatre work for 3 singers and four instrumentalists

Text: "The Spurt of Blood", "On Suicide" and nonsense words, by Antonin Artaud (1925) (E).

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