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Henry Moore Institute

The Virtues of Things (No. 75)

The Virtues of Things (No. 75)

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This issue of Essays on Sculpture is dedicated to an opera, The Virtues of Things. Performed in May 2015, with music composed by Matt Rogers and the libretto written by Sally O'Reilly, this is on opera that thinks sculpturally.

Virtues unfolds in a family prop-making studio specialising in opera productions. Selby De Selby is the master craftsman; his cousins, the twin sisters Ellipsis and Parabola, are the senior designers; and his niece Peg is the apprentice.

“I would say that 'Virtues' is a sculptural piece. It relates to installation and readymades, and has a strong formal attitude to text and its narrative spaces.”

- Sally O'Reilly in conversation, 21 January 2016

This is a story about the making of props, objects used in play to create a narrative. Props stand in for familiar objects and make possible worlds that are in theory impossible.

In this Issue

This essay contains the full libretto, followed by a conversation between Sally O'Reilly, Matt Rogers, Matthew Fox (Professor of Classics, University of Glasgow), Lisa Le Feuvre  (Head of Sculpture Studies, the Henry Moore Institute) and Dominic Gray (Projects Director, Opera North).

The Virtues of Things is a co-commission and co-production between Aldeburgh Music, Opera North and The Royal Opera.

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