In 1997 Glyndebourne Education commissioned Writer Stephen Plaice and Composer John Lunn to write a Youth opera for the main stage with 5 Professional singers, 73 young people in cast, youth orchestra. This was revived again in 1998.
The prologue is set in 12th century China, where a philosopher is writing about the future. Managing to blot and burn a page of his manuscript, he must travel to the future to put matters right. In Crayford, England, 1999, a bunch of lads are up to no good at a railway line: Frank sprays his mark on a tunnel wall, while Barry puts a concrete block on the track. The train derails and the driver is hurt. A police inspector turns up at the school to question the kids. They have discovered the absent Frank's mark on the wall. The finger of blame points to him. The inspector also warns the kids about a missing person, or 'misper', seen in the vicinity: he might be responsible for some fires in Crayford recently. Julie, who knows Frank could not be to blame for the derailment, determines to emulate her heroine, a TV detective, and find out the truth. Frank is hiding out at Blackthorn Tip, where the philosopher – alias the Misper – befriends him. Barry helps catch Frank and the Misper and hand them over to the police. Julie is now sure Frank is innocent. She uses the fact that Barry fancies her to prove him guilty. He invites her out for a Chinese meal with the proceeds of his petty crimes, and she records their conversation. The Misper then warns her that Barry is setting the school on fire, and she saves his life. Barry is arrested and admits everything. At the tip, the Misper explains to Frank that he will return to his own time and that none of these events will happen. Back in China, he sees that the manuscript is unblemished.
Composer John Lunn
Book and lyrics Stephen Plaice
Director Stephen Langridge
Conductor Andrea Quinn
Designer Alison Chitty
Lighting Designer Keith Benson
Movement Trevor Stuart
Starring: Omar Ebrahim, Josik Koc, Mary King, Tertia Sefton-Green, Melanie Pappenheim, Joss Turley, Gemma Ticehurst, Alice Purcell, Joseph Beamont, John Berry, Chris Hodges, Ben Davies
East Sussex Academy of Music Orchestra
Première - Glyndebourne: 27 February 1997
Revived at Glyndebourne: 25 February 1998
'Children's opera has a chequered history. But Misper, commissioned by Glyndebourne and premiered by pupils from Sussex schools is a cracker. Stephen Plaice's libretto brilliantly catches the way teenagers talk... this is one new opera that shouldn't go missing.'
Richard Morrison The Times
'Misper has more to offer than good looks; and whether or not it really counts as opera - 'musical' might be closer to the truth, it's an impressive and affecting piece of work'
Michael White The Independent on Sunday
' At last, a teenage opera to sing about.'
Rupert Christiansen The Telegraph
'Misper was a genuine show, staged with wit and gusto.'