Parthenogenesis takes its inspiration from the incredible story of a German woman shocked into conceiving a child without a father during a wartime bombing raid in 1944; the title describes the creation of a child solely with the genetic material of its mother. This theme is explored through both Michael Symmons Roberts’s dramatic exchanges between the mother, her daughter and an earth-bound angel, and James MacMillan’s composition that entwines musical representations of the codes of DNA itself into the score.

The tensions between the religious symbolism of virgin birth and contemporary genetic science provide another layer in Parthenogenesis, which features two singers, an actress and an instrumental ensemble.

Under ROH2, with the Britten Sinfonia, Parthenogenesis receives its premiere at the Royal Opera House in the Linbury Studio for a limited number of performances, once more to bring out the innocence and menace, the contemporary and the eternal, that weave through this work.

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