The story of Ethel Smyth, composer, writer and suffragette,
told in her own words and compositions, in a flowing fusion of drama and music.

Ethel was the first woman composer to be performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and is now acclaimed as “the missing link” between Purcell and Britten.

Performed by contralto Lucy Stevens and pianist Elizabeth Marcus.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918,
the decisive step in the political emancipation of women in the UK.

Ethel’s exploits and passions interwoven with her songs, the story of her greatest opera, ‘The Wreckers’ and her battle for an equal voice.  Illuminated with anecdotes from her confidants, her letters and her own writing. “which is peculiarly beautiful and all of it rippling with life”.

Ethel Smyth was the living embodiment
of the courage and passion with which Victorian women challenged the “male machine”.  As an activist, she was imprisoned in Holloway with Mrs Pankhurst.  As a composer, she wrote the anthem for the suffrage movement ‘The March of the Women’ as well as composing 6 operas and many sonata’s, quartets and song cycles.

 George Bernard Shaw wrote to Ethel;  “Magnificent! It was your music that cured me for ever of the old delusion that women could not do men’s work in art and other things …Your music is more masculine than Handel’s. You scorned sugar and sentimentality and were exuberantly ferocious. You booted Elgar contemptuously out of the way as an old woman.”

Meet Ethel, who smashed windows and defied boundaries to grasp her dreams.

“Another absolute triumph!  Your combined musical skills are tremendous…an extraordinary insight into the life and music of a truly remarkable woman.  It was magical, moving and totally engrossing.”
Nick Barnes Chairman & Programme Secretary, The Arts Society, South Cambs

Photographs by Laura Doddington