The debut novel from Simon Mayo, Itch follows the story of an accidental, accident-prone hero. Science is his weapon. Elements are his gadgets. Itchingham Lofte – known as Itch – is fourteen, and loves science, especially chemistry. He’s also an element hunter: he’s collecting all the elements in the periodic table. Which has some interesting and rather destructive results in his bedroom. Then, Itch makes a discovery. A new element, never seen before. At first no one believes him – but soon someone hears about the strange new rock and wants it for himself. And Itch and his family are catapulted into a breathless quest with terrifyingly high stakes. 

Described as ‘Breaking Bad for kids’ by NPR in America, the Itch books explore the magical properties of the elements through an adventure story of explosive proportions.

Opera Holland Park has transformed Itch into a new opera composed by Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton. Itch receives its world premiere in a production directed by Stephen Barlow (The Cunning Little Vixen, 2021) with designs by Olivier nominated designer Frankie Bradshaw. Jessica Cottis (The Cunning Little Vixen, 2021) conducts an exceptional ensemble cast, reuniting many of the singers from Barlow’s five star 2015 production of Dove’s Flight

James Clutton, CEO and Director of Opera notes ”I am thrilled to commission a new opera from Jonathan and Alasdair, especially as we emerge from the difficulties of the last two years. When I read Simon’s novel I was immediately struck by the potential to create something truly exciting for the stage. After the great success of our 2013 commission for children, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it gives me enormous pleasure to be commissioning a work that will appeal to everyone, young and old.”

Meet the Cast

A sparkling cast includes tenor Adam Temple-Smith as Itch making his Opera Holland Park debut alongside Rebecca Bottone and, fresh from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, baritone Eric Greene

Returning to OHP, Natasha Agarwal (Lapák The Cunning Little Vixen 2021, Frasquita Carmen 2022), Robert Burt (Hadji Lakmé and Fiorello Il barbiere di Siviglia 2007, Federico L’amico Fritz 2011, Biaso I gioielli della Madonna and Goro Madama Butterfly 2013, Abbé de Chazeuil Adriana Lecouvreur 2014, Queen of Hearts Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and in the Linbury Studio, ROH 2015), James Laing (Cheshire Cat Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 2013 and 2016, The Refugee Flight 2015), Nicholas Garrett (Escamillo Carmen and Bartolo Il barbiere di Siviglia 2001, title role Don Giovanni 2002 and 2010, Scarpia Tosca 2008, Don Alfonso Così fan tutte 2012, Sonora La fanciulla del West 2014, Minskman Flight 2015, Barone Duphol La traviata 2018 and 2021, Gideon March Little Women 2022) and Victoria Simmonds (Mad Hatter/Alice’s Mother Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 2015, 2016 and 2017 and in the Linbury studio, ROH 2015, Minskwoman Flight 2015, Angelina La Cenerentola 2016, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni 2017, Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro 2021, Alma March Little Women 2022).

Recently recorded at Opera Holland Park’s Prelude event at Leighton House, two arias from Itch are available to listen to below. 

James Laing sings “I Comb the Beaches

Adam Temple-Smith sings “The Castle of the Elements


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