The Royal Opera presents the world premiere of The Monstrous Child, a new opera by young British composer Gavin Higgins and best-selling author Francesca Simon. This is the first opera to be staged in the newly refurbished Linbury Theatre.

The Monstrous Child is Gavin Higgins’s first opera, and the text has been adapted by Francesca Simon from her darkly humorous young adult novel of the same name. Puppetry and designs inspired by Norse landscape contribute to this theatrical exploration of an adolescent girl’s attempts to find her place in the world.

Hel is the daughter of the Norse god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. She’d be an ordinary teenager if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s half girl and half corpse. A prophecy predicts that Hel’s brothers are fated to bring forth the end of days, and in an attempt to prevent this the gods kidnap all three of Loki’s monstrous children and take them to Asgard. Here, Hel becomes infatuated with Baldr, son of Odin (the king of the gods). Odin banishes her to Niflheim to rule over the dead for eternity, where she continues to dream of Baldr. When Baldr unexpectedly appears in Nifelheim, Hel is forced to face up to reality and her fate.

British director Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, makes his Royal Opera debut directing The Monstrous Child, with Paul Wills designing for the first time for The Royal Opera. Conducting honours are shared between Australian-British conductor Jessica Cottis, who made her Royal Opera debut last Season conducting Na’ama Zisser’s Mamzer Bastard at the Hackney Empire and British conductor Mark Austin, who worked as assistant conductor for Coraline at the Barbican Theatre for The Royal Opera last Season. The cast is led by British-Spanish soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons making her Royal Opera debut in the title role of Hel.

The Monstrous Child opens at the Royal Opera House on Thursday 21 February 2019

The Monstrous Child (#ROHmonstrous)

21, 22 February 2019 at 7.30pm, 24 February 2019 at 2pm,
27, 28 February at 7.30pm, 2 March at 7.30pm, 3 March at 2pm

Generous philanthropic support from The Clore Duffield Foundation, Hamish and Sophie Forsyth, The John S Cohen Foundation, Mr Stefan Sten Olsson and Mr John Tierney, The Taylor Family Foundation, The Contemporary Music Circle and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund

Sung in English
Suitable for ages 8+
Tickets available from the Royal Opera House website and Box Office (+44 (0)20 7304 4000)


Music Gavin Higgins
Libretto Francesca Simon
Director Timothy Sheader
Designer Paul Wills
Lighting designer Howard Hudson
Movement director Josie Daxter
Video designer Ian William Galloway
Sound design Sound Intermedia

Conductors Jessica Cottis
Mark Austin (27 and 28 February at 7.30pm)
Hel Marta Fontanals-Simmons
Angrboda Rosie Aldridge
Loki/God Tom Randle
Modgud Lucy Schaufer
Odin Graeme Broadbent
Baldr Dan Shelvey
Nanna/Embla Elizabeth Karani
Orchestra Aurora Orchestra

*Royal Opera debut
†Jette Parker Young Artist