Ethel Smyth – Grasp the Nettle

Ethel Smyth – Grasp the Nettle

Ethel Smyth – Grasp the Nettle


Thursday 1st February 8pm


A new play with music performed by

contralto Lucy Stevens and pianist Elizabeth Marcus.


A whirlwind of Ethel’s exploits and passions interwoven with her songs,

the story of her greatest opera, ‘The Wreckers’

and her battle for an equal voice.


Illuminated with anecdotes from her confidants, her letters and her own writing “…which is peculiarly beautiful and all of it rippling with life”.


Ethel Smyth, the composer, writer and suffragette, was the living embodiment of the courage and passion with which Victorian women challenged the “male machine”.

As an activist, she was imprisoned in Holloway with Mrs Pankhurst.

As a composer, she wrote the anthem for the suffrage movement ‘The March of the Women’ as well as composing 6 operas and many sonata’s, quartets and song cycles.


George Bernard Shaw wrote to her…

“Magnificent! It was your music that cured me for ever of the old delusion that women could not do men’s work in art and other things …Your music is more masculine than Handel’s. You scorned sugar and sentimentality and were exuberantly ferocious. You booted Elgar contemptuously out of the way as an old woman.”


Ethel Smyth was the first female composer to have an opera performed at Covent Garden Opera House in 1902, in 1903, she was the first female composer to have an opera performed at The Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The next opera by a female composer to be performed at Covent Garden was in 2012 and The Met in 2016!




Book Tickets

Thu 1 Feb
8:00pm