composer, performer and sound designer

SFX for Alcina (GF Handel)

An elaborate, bespoke sound effect for the finale of Handel’s Alcina. At the Royal Opera House, November 2022.

In this new production of Handel’s fantastical opera, Alcina the sorcerer’s ‘magical urn’ is a giant glass bottle of love potion. This is smashed at the climax of the show.

I created a sound effect for this moment, not using glass which never sounds that ‘glassy’ over a speaker system and doesn’t feel particularly delightful or magical. Instead I use dozens of tiny nails which I dropped onto ceramic tile, then down-pitched randomly to give the impression of more heft. I randomly layered these delicate sounds, dozens of times over, to create a sonic cloud of collisions – somewhere between a glassy and metallic effect. In the Royal Opera House auditorium, I was able to spatialise these sounds, to some extent, to create a magical effect which lasted around half a minute. I also added in a bass note, tuned to match the continuo’s previous chord, so this sound effect gelled with the music and didn’t feel like a jarring interjection from another soundworld.

The Royal Opera House production of Alcina was directed by Richard Jones.

Alcina at the ROH- photo copyright Marc Brenner

Alcina  Рphotograph copyright Marc Brenner