Tod Machover - Composer, Inventor, Educator

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Tod Machover's opera, Skellig, opened to full houses, standing ovations, and rave reviews in its premiere performances from November 24–29, 2008 at the Sage Gateshead (Newcastle, UK). The Times (London) says Machover “captures the tale's eerie essence... while remaining accessible and fun”, the Telegraph (London) calls it “alluring and intriguing,” while the Herald (Glasgow) calls it “nothing less than a dramatic expression of the spiritual sustenance of music.” Click here for Skellig reviews/media, video, and images.

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Skellig named “One of Top 10 Events of the Year” by The Telegraph (London)

“Tod Machover's witty and imaginative version of David Almond's children's classic was a delightful end-of-year surprise”

Journal Live (Newcastle) calls Skellig “one of the most memorable of the year”

“During 2008, I have witnessed the flowering of projects whose roots lie sometimes very deeply in international cooperation and respect…. The story [of Skellig] had crossed the Atlantic and fallen into the hands of American composer Tod Machover. Enchanted by it, he had set David Almond's words to music and the result was performed to ecstatic reviews in November.”

The Independent (London) calls Skellig “spell-binding”

“There is more than enough to engage listeners of all ages in this surprisingly successful children's opera...Like the enigmatic creature itself, Skellig deserves many reincarnations.”

Skellig Praised in The Times (London)

“Tod Machover has set Skellig to an 90-minute score that blends sophisticated 360-degree electronics and conventional instruments, resourceful choral effects and attractive neoclassical tunes. Done with a light touch, it's music that captures the tale's eerie essence...while being accessible and fun...”

The Herald (Glasgow) calls Skellig “a dramatic expression of the spiritual sustenance of music.”

“Any prejudiced soul convinced that opera is a moribund or historic artform best ignored would have their preconceptions shattered at The Sage this week...Here is a brand-new opera proving the medium more than suitable for the latest storytelling for young people.”

The Guardian says, “With Tod Machover's new operatic treatment, Skellig may well have found its ideal form.”


Classic FM (London) broadcasts 6 different Skellig-related interviews

Extensive interviews with Tod Machover, David Almond and various cast members were broadcast on November 27 and 29, and December 3, 5, 7, and 9 are archived online for playback or download.

The Telegraph (London) calls Skellig “alluring and intriguing”

“Although he has dauntingly served as professor at Boulez's research centre IRCAM and won fame as a pioneer of electronic synthesizing, the American composer Tod Machover can also write immediately attractive and accessible music which doesn't descend to sub-Broadway kitsch...The score is sparely but vivaciously orchestrated, easily melodic, rhythmically buoyant and enriched by many strange and wonderful noises.”

The Journal (Newcastle) says Skellig is “a modern opera with legs as well as wings.”

Skellig works brilliantly as an opera. Boy, does it work! It left me with a lump in my throat and a sort of a tickle in one eye. Big boys don't cry, of course, but I was very moved. This is a very classy piece of work indeed.”

British Theatre Guide says, “Tears in the eyes for Skellig won't feel like operatic affectation.”

“Tod Machover obviously sets the tone for this particular recension of the story. That Machover saw the musical landscape of the book as one of sounds which converse with or rebound from each other rather than arias or even tunes, immediately hits the right note. Music here can celebrate but it must not ever gloss over. The overtly 'operatic' might risk containing the story rather than, as Machover does, encouraging it to spread its wings.”

CultureCentral (Newcastle) says, “Almond and Machover can be assured they aroused a sense of awe and wonder in at least two first time opera goers (ages 8 and 9).”


Chronicle Live (Newcastle) says Skellig is “EXTRAORDINARY.”

“The music intertwines with the story and evolves—exaggerating the connection between differing life forms as they grow physically, emotionally and spiritually...I was mesmerised by the performances of all characters and was driven to tears by the emotion.”

Skellig the Opera Prepares to Soar, in The Herald

“Machover was immediately attracted to the the eerie and enthralling Skellig novel, especially its lyrical streak and the strong, simple dialogue, with which Almond describes and defines the characters, and which the author has retained in the opera libretto he has fashioned... It seems likely that, in its new operatic guise, Almond's story will continue to work its extraordinary magic.”

BBC News: Classic Tale Made into Opera

“The children's classic Skellig has been written into an opera with its world premiere at the Sage Gateshead.”

Preparing for Skellig - Tod's Bowers & Wilkins' blog

“I'm in Newcastle-on-Tyne right now, in the final stage of rehearsals for my Skellig opera which premieres here at the Sage Gateshead next Monday and runs from November 24-29.”

Three Young Stars of Skellig Talk about the New Opera

“There may be excitement on Broadway tonight with the New York premiere of Billy Elliot: The Musical, but on Tyneside another North East story is preparing for musical lift-off.”

Machover talks about what drew him to Skellig

“David Almond's award-winning novel, Skellig, has taken wing as an opera. American composer Tod Machover tells David Whetstone (The Journal, UK) what drew him to the book.”

David Almond discusses Skellig in The Guardian

Librettist David Almond discusses the genesis of Machover's new opera and the translation of a novel into music in The Guardian (UK).

News of Skellig premiere from the Sage Gateshead

Skellig is an enchanting contemporary opera of David Almond's award-winning novel of the same name, commissioned by The Sage Gateshead.

Skellig premiere featured at Opera Europa conference

Opera Europa members are invited to an afternoon seminar exploring the creative challenges of making opera for both young and adult audiences, followed by a performance of Skellig, on Saturday 29 November from 1pm at The Sage Gateshead, Northeast England’s iconic music centre.

Skellig featured in October issue of "The Crack"

All good stories should start with what you find at the bottom of the garden: especially if you discover an angel. Bitter and half-dead however, Skellig is more sinister tramp than saintly cherub, devouring dead bluebottles and brown ale.

Skellig to be finale of "Juice Festival" for children

A newly commissioned, contemporary opera of David Almond’s award-winning novel, Skellig, will premiere at The Sage Gateshead in November providing an enchanting festival finale. Co-commissioned by culture10 and The Sage Gateshead, Skellig will challenge all preconceptions of traditional opera.