We do our best,
we Queens, we mothers,
mothers of Queens

That saying? Behind every famous man...? From Mrs Darwin to Queen Kong, Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife is a poetry collection that takes a swipe at the famous men of history and myth from their spouses' perspective. Composer Tom Green has transformed these firework poems in to a 21st century opera for solo soprano and string quartet and loop pedals. Join us for the debut of a radical new operatic voice, as five onstage musicians construct disembodied choirs and armies of string quartets to tell a story we all share.


The World’s Wife is a 21st century chamber opera. Using loop pedals to turn a small group of musicians into a universe of sound, this piece tells the story of women through the ages as you’ve not heard them before.

composer Tom Green says:

I want to confront the tradition of 'undoing' female characters in opera, literature, history, our inherited culture - and Carol Ann Duffy's words are perfect for excavating these ancient prejudices. Composing with a motherlode of loop pedals has allowed me to have multiple active characters sung by a single soprano, all giving an explosive re-telling of their stories. As the string quartet loops itself from a string orchestra to an army of mechanical ants, the soprano's characters accumulate, and she becomes an archetype - the World's Wife. This piece isn't about healing old wounds, but drawing current questions into the spotlight. I've written the music using material from various female composers - is this just another man stealing women's work for glory? Maybe. Questions of gender are still with us, and they need to be asked.

Cast and
Creative Team

Text by

Carol Ann Duffy

Music by

Tom Green


Amanda Forbes


Ed Madden


Grace Smart

Sound Design:

Samuel Jones

Lighting Design:

Joe Price