Preloader Operavision
Sarah Champion as Daisy and Mark Le Brocq as Harry King (c) James Glossop
17.05.2019 at 19h00 CET
Friday, May 17, 2019 - 19:00

Scottish Opera


WORLD PREMIERE A thrilling expedition to the end of the world.

Operas | MacRae / Welsh

A team of scientists becomes trapped in the frozen Arctic wastelands. Tensions rise and relationships crumble, and then something appears, out of the ice.


This fourth collaboration between composer Stuart MacRae and librettist Louise Welsh is their most ambitious to date. With unrelenting drama and superb storytelling, Anthropocene engages with the crucial issues of our time – climate change, sacrifice and our ceaseless quest for knowledge.

Sung in English

Subtitled in English with possibility of auto-translation into 114 other languages.

Available from
17.05.2019 at 19h00 CET

Available until
16.11.2019 at 23h59 CET

IceJennifer France
Professor PrenticeJeni Bern
CharlesStephen Gadd
MilesBenedict Nelson
Harry KingMark Le Brocq
Captain RossPaul Whelan
VascoAnthony Gregory
DaisySarah Champion

Music MacRae / Welsh
ConductorStuart Stratford
DirectorMatthew Richardson
Set DesignerSamal Blak
Costume DesignerSamal Blak
Lighting DesignerMatthew Richardson
Movement DirectorKally Lloyd-Jones
Video DirectorJonathan Haswell (for OperaVision)
Video ProducerAndrew Lockyer (for OperaVision)
Associate Lighting DirectorZoe Spurr
Scottish Opera

Act I

The research ship King’s Anthropocene is moored in northern Greenland. It is the end of the Arctic summer. Wealthy entrepreneur Harry King has financed a scientific expedition to collect samples from the ancient ice, which he hopes will reveal the origins of life.

With him on the ship are Professor Prentice, the expedition’s leader, alongside her husband Charles, both of them scientists. The crew comprises Captain Ross and Vasco, the ship’s engineer. They are joined by Harry King’s daughter Daisy, an amateur photographer documenting the voyage, and Miles, a journalist Harry has commissioned to report on the expedition’s triumphs.

While Charles, Daisy and Miles are away from the ship collecting samples, the temperature falls rapidly, the sea freezes, and the ship is in danger of becoming trapped in the ice. Prentice is determined to wait for those still away from the vessel but finally relents, even though it means abandoning her husband, and orders the Captain to cast off.

It is too late: the ship is trapped. Daisy, Miles and Charles return, bringing aboard a large block of ice. The rest of the expedition are amazed to see a body trapped within the ice block. When Daisy begins photographing the body inside the ice, she sees an eye move. Vasco takes an axe and smashes open the block. A young woman, Ice, is freed – alive.

The next morning, Miles uses the satellite phone to speak to his editor, explaining the extraordinary discovery – the story of the century! In the sick bay, Prentice, Charles and Harry King examine Ice and try to communicate with her. Slowly, Ice starts to speak. Miles’ editor wants him to keep high-profile tycoon Harry King trapped in the Arctic – in itself a front-page story. Miles agrees, and disables the communications system by removing a component. Ice escapes from the sick bay and runs into Miles on deck just as he is removing the component.

Later, Miles finds Vasco on deck as he tries to repair the communications system. They start fighting, and the vital communication component that Miles removed falls from his pocket. Vasco realises what Miles has done. In panic, Miles grabs a spanner and strikes Vasco on the head, killing him. He drags Vasco’s body off the ship.

Act II

Weeks have passed. It is the Arctic winter. Ice tells everyone that only blood will warm the water. Daisy believes she saw Vasco far away across the ice. Miles is alarmed that Vasco may not be dead, but Charles dismisses Daisy’s apparent sighting as an illusion.

Alone on deck, Miles decides it is time to call for rescue, since they are suffering too much. He is about to replace the missing component, but decides he will first pretend to have found it where Vasco supposedly dropped it. He will be seen as the hero, and save the day.


Prentice is haunted by her decision to wait for the expedition members out on the ice before leaving, meaning the ship became trapped. She tells her husband that she should have abandoned him, even though she loves him. Charles reminds her that the discovery of Ice will make them as famous as Newton, Darwin or Curie. Prentice fears that they will all die in the Arctic, and that nobody will hear their story.

A violent tempest breaks and King’s Anthropocene is crushed. Captain Ross suspects that Miles killed Vasco, but Miles denies the accusation, blaming Ice and claiming her presence will kill them all. Captain Ross turns on Ice, but Daisy defends her, saying it was they themselves who disturbed Ice by breaking her free.

Ice reveals her story. Her people had become isolated, their land increasingly frozen as the ice advanced. Her own family sacrificed her. Her blood melted the ice, made the water flow and freed her people. By taking her from the ice, the incomers have undone the original sacrifice. She tells them that another sacrifice must be made to set them free.

Miles produces the missing component, declaring that they are all saved since rescue can be summoned. Harry King is ecstatic, but as he grabs the component he drops it, and it shatters into pieces.

Their hopes are smashed. Miles confesses that he killed Vasco, but claims it was an accident. Prentice believes she must act to save everyone where she failed to act before, and so kills Miles. Ice is horrified by the savagery of their actions, pleading that a true sacrifice should not be like this. She leaves them, returning to the icy landscape.

The ice melts and the water flows. Rescuers are heard approaching.