Our good friends at Volante Opera have been in touch with very exciting news! You may remember, in 2022 and 2023 we brought you news of their work with composer Paul Corfield Godfrey, to bring to life his operas of stories from The Silmarillion.

Godfrey had for many years been working on operatic excerpts from The Lord of the Rings – and during lockdown, he and the Volante Opera folks had even begun recording excerpts, ‘just in case’; but the Tolkien Estate had not granted permission for those works to be released.

We can now exclusively reveal that Godfrey and Volante Opera Productions have been granted permission to release recordings and scores of these works.

There are thirty ‘chapters’, intended to be performed over six evenings. The text is (of course) abridged, but uses as closely as possible Tolkien’s own words; and fans can even look forward to an appearance by that most elusive of characters in adaptations, Tom Bombadil!

The fifteen CD set should be available in 2025. Meanwhile, you can enjoy Volante’s previous recordings of Godfrey’s Silmarillion settings, available to purchase on their website; and here’s a trailer, with aural ‘glimpses’ of what treats we have in store.

Here’s the official press release from Volante Opera:


For many years the Tolkien Estate has refused to allow any musical treatment of the works of the author which employed his own words. Now they have agreed to make a concession in respect of the music of Paul Corfield Godfrey, whose cycle of “epic scenes from The Silmarillion” was finally completed in 2023 with the issue of a ten-CD series of recordings from Volante Opera and Prima Facie Records.

Ever since the 1960s the composer has been working on sketches, fragments and episodes of what was envisaged as a cycle of musical works based upon The Lord of the Rings. Following on from the success of the recordings of The Silmarillion Paul was persuaded to go back to these beginnings and fully explore, expand and complete the work which has now evolved as “musical chapters from The Lord of the Rings”. This fully operatic setting has now become a companion work on the same scale as The Silmarillion. This adaptation takes place over thirty “chapters” designed to be performed over six evenings – over fifteen hours of music.

This work is currently in the process of recording by Volante Opera and it is anticipated that Prima Facie will release a demo recording of the complete cycle, in the same manner as their Silmarillion recordings, in 2025.


The professional singers, some thirty in number, come mainly from Welsh National Opera. Returning artists from The Silmarillion include: Simon Crosby Buttle as Frodo, Julian Boyce as Sam, Philip Lloyd-Evans as Gandalf, Stephen Wells as Aragorn, Michael Clifton-Thompson as Gollum, Helen Jarmany as Éowyn, Huw Llywelyn as Bilbo, Emma Mary Llewellyn as Arwen, Laurence Cole as Boromir/Denethor, Martin Lloyd as Treebeard/Herb Master, Helen Greenaway as Lobelia/Ioreth, Rosie Hay as Gwaihir, Sophie Yelland as the Barrow-wight, Louise Ratcliffe as Lindir, with George Newton-Fitzgerald and Jasey Hall taking on a plethora of roles. Angharad Morgan will also be reprising her role as Galadriel from The Silmarillion. Our new cast members and their characters will be introduced as the recording process continues.

Those who have enjoyed the composer’s large-scale setting of The Silmarillion will be pleased to discover that the music inhabits the same musical world as before, with many ideas and themes continued and expanded into The Lord of the Rings. The “musical chapters” also incorporate other works by the composer such as his earlier Tolkien songs (already available on CD) which now assume greater significance in the course of the whole structure.

Although the text is inevitably abridged, it adheres without any but the most minor alterations to the author’s original words, and the original plot development remains unchanged – including such elements as Tom Bombadil, the Barrow-wight and the ‘scouring of the Shire’. And some other passages, such as the coronation and wedding of Aragorn, are given expanded musical treatment.

Further tales from Tolkien in music

Also coming early 2025, a complete recording of Paul Corfield Godfrey’s solo piano works played by renowned British concert pianist Duncan Honeybourne. This will include, amongst other works, the epic piano rondo Akallabêth, a solo piano version of the Wedding March from The Fall of Gondolin, and a new work composed specifically for Duncan and this album – ‘The Passing of Arwen’.

For more information about the work please visit: www.paulcorfieldgodfrey.co.uk
For more information about the recording by Volante Opera Productions please visit: www.volanteopera.wales
Updates about the recording process will be posted to our social media feeds:
DISCORD: https://discord.gg/J6bQFHygr7
FACEBOOK: Volante Opera Productions, The Music of Paul Corfield Godfrey
INSTAGRAM/THREADS: @volanteopera
TWITTER/X: @OperaVolante, @TheCorfield
Recordings and scores of Epic Scenes from The Silmarillion and Akallabêth and other Tolkien Works are available from Volante Opera Productions’ website.

Check out Volante’s website for lots more information, including more details on casting/characters, chapter breakdown, and synopsis. So much to look forward to; we can’t wait to hear these pieces in full. Now we hope they may be brought to the stage one day… Meanwhile here’s Godfrey’s ‘Lament for Boromir’ – enjoy!

Texts by J.R.R. Tolkien from The Lord of the Rings and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by permission of the Estate of the author, HarperCollins Publishers and Middle-earth Enterprises.

As you no doubt know by now, there is a new production of The Lord of the Rings musical currently playing at The Watermill Theatre; it opened July 25th and runs until October 15th. Last week, staffer greendragon ventured into the Berkshire countryside and found herself in the Shire. Here’s her review of the production:

Sam – Nuwan Hugh Perera – and Frodo – Louis Maskell – with Gollum – Matthew Bugg – sneaking in the background… (Photography Pamela Raith)

The Lord of the Rings restaged

When The Lord of the Rings musical first appeared, in all its (at the time) ‘most expensive musical ever’ glory, I went to see it in London. I was not convinced. The extravagant, elaborate staging could not conceal the fact that the songs were not particularly memorable, and it just seemed like Tolkien’s story wasn’t really suited to this kind of telling. It was not surprising when the show was not the hoped for success.

Rediscovering the piece, in its new, MUCH smaller and more intimate staging, I am closer to being convinced. First of all, the setting is stunning. The audience arrive in a beautiful, bucolic location, where food and drink can be enjoyed by a slowly winding river. A large ring of woven willow decorates the front lawn of the venue. As show time approaches, everyone heads to behind the building – following signs to the ‘birthday party’. So the performance begins outside – where we are all guests at a Long-expected Party. (Though for some reason, it was referred to as a ‘long awaited party’. Perhaps this was a slip of the tongue? As this production is fully licensed by Middle-earth Enterprises, they certainly have the right to use the Professor’s phrase.)

The Shire is the perfect place for music, and so the show gets off to a very strong start. We are swept up in the party atmosphere; I delighted in seeing the Sackville-Bagginses looking suitably annoyed when they learned that Bilbo was making Frodo his heir, and Bilbo’s disappearance was very well handled. As the Shire-folk rushed around, wondering where he had gone, we joined them in their search – heading inside to the rustic wooden theatre.

This very small auditorium – with just under 100 seats downstairs and about the same again upstairs – is brilliantly used in every way possible to tell the epic story. The staging is incredibly inventive, with cast moving through the auditorium – and even climbing over it. Stunning puppets create suitably terrifying Ringwraiths and an astonishing Shelob. Elrond causes the river to rise, the doors of Moria glow, even the Balrog appears; every theatrical trick and device is called into play, including impressive lighting and projections, to create Middle-earth in front of and around the audience – and those watching the night I was there were clearly loving it.

Gimli – Folarin Akinmade – sings a lament in Moria. (Photography Pamela Raith)

An outstanding cast

The cast were mostly excellent. Stand outs for me were Nuwan Hugh Perera as a funny, warm, pitch-perfect Samwise; John O’Mahony’s charming Bilbo; and Matthew Bugg, whose astonishingly athletic and aggressive Gollum managed to be fully his own embodiment of the character, rather than being trapped in an Andy Serkis impression. I loved Folarin Akinmade’s Gimli, and wished the script allowed more time for his relationship with Legolas (Yazdan Qafouri) to be played out; one very touching moment between them towards the end of the show made me want more of these characters. Peter Dukes (Boromir) and Aaron Sidwell (Aragorn) were particularly moving in Boromir’s death scene. Louis Maskell didn’t entirely convince me as Frodo, being perhaps slightly overwrought; but it’s a demanding role which carries much of the show, and overall he proved himself equal to the task. Peter Marinker as Gandalf seemed to be still finding his way into the role, in the early performance I saw.

Condensing the plot

If you’re a Tolkien purist, you’ll may find fault with this version of the story. To fit the entire plot into one evening of theatre naturally requires much pruning and condensing – poor Tom Bombadil and Celeborn don’t make the cut, again! Denethor and Theoden are blended into one, as are the battles of Helm’s Deep and the Pelennor Fields. I think the condensation of the story is skilfully handled; I was more bothered, in a picky purist sort of a way, by the Hobbits wearing sandals – though I do understand the need for safety for actors’ feet!

The costuming – with influences of Bollywood in the elven outfits – is similar to the original production, and the revolving stage is still there (albeit in much smaller form). The show looks and sounds stunning; the cast are also the band, and though it may sound like a strange idea, somehow it works seamlessly when Pippin (the charming and highly energetic Amelia Gabriel) picks up an accordion and starts to play. Certainly in the Shire and at Bree, the songs work wonderfully. I’m still not sure about the rest of the music. Retelling such an intense, literary tale in musical form is not easy; Les Miserables comes to mind as the most obvious, successful literature-to-musical transformation. The writers of The Lord of the Rings musical haven’t quite pulled off this difficult transition, for me. It just doesn’t seem entirely plausible when Arwen and Aragorn sing a (rather Disney-ish) love duet on the eve of battle; but perhaps I’m just cynical.

A climax, and a tearjerker ending

The one song which stayed with me from the original production was Now and for Always – and that is still the high point of the show, beautifully and movingly performed. As the show approached its end, and the Hobbits returned to the Shire, to clear up the damage caused by Sharkey and his ruffians, we headed back outside with them. A sail was now unfurled where once a party banner had been; and I was moved to tears as Frodo made his farewells, and left Sam to carry on the story.

The lights in the party tree… (Photography greendragon)

In spite of my few misgivings, overall this is a beautiful, moving evening of theatre, and a wonderful chance to immerse yourself in Tolkien’s great story. It’s worth the price of admission just to be transported to the Shire. I imagine the producers may be hoping this production will transfer elsewhere after its run at the Watermill Theatre; but even if it does, this is the perfect setting in which to see it. Do go, if you can.

The Lord of the Rings will play at the Watermill from Tuesday 25 July until Sunday 15 October 2023.  Tickets are on sale via watermill.org.uk/The-Lord-Of-The-Rings

The brand new production of The Lord of the Rings musical is almost here! The show opens next week, Tuesday July 25, at The Watermill Theatre, near Newbury in Berkshire. To whet appetites, a musical video has been released – and it’s an absolute delight, sure to transport you back to the Shire. Take a look:

Don’t miss the chance to see this charming and moving re-tellling of the beloved story; grab your tickets now!

The Lord of the Rings will play at the Watermill from Tuesday 25 July until Sunday 15 October 2023.  Tickets are on sale via watermill.org.uk/The-Lord-Of-The-Rings

Back in March we let you know that a new production of The Lord of the Rings musical was in the works. It will be performed at The Watermill Theatre, near Newbury in Berkshire, July 25 to Oct 15 this year. Tickets for this highly anticipated production are available now! Here’s the latest information on cast and crew for this exciting production, from the official press release:




Newbury’s The Watermill Theatre is thrilled to announce the full cast of their upcoming musical; a brand-new production of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, a musical tale based on the classic trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, with book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and music by A.R. Rahman (Bombay DreamsSlumdog Millionaire), Värttinä and Tony Award winner and Grammy nominated Christopher Nightingale (Matilda the Musical).

With the production set across both the Watermill auditorium and gardens, audiences will be immersed in the magical landscape of Middle-earth, joining an ensemble cast and large-scale puppets on an epic journey celebrating the power of friendship and common goodness to conquer unimaginable evil.

The full cast are Folarin Akinmade (Perfect Show for Rachel – The Pit, Barbican) as ‘Gimli’, Matthew Bugg (Zorro the Musical – Charing Cross Theatre) as ‘Gollum’, Reece Causton (Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man – UK Tour) as ‘Ensemble’, Kelly Coughlin (Avenue 5 – HBO/Sky) as ‘Ensemble’, Geraint Downing (A Christmas Carol – The Old Vic Theatre) as ‘Merry’, Peter Dukes (Brief Encounter – Empire, Haymarket) as ‘Boromir’, Amelia Gabriel (Ride – VAULT Festival) as ‘Pippin’, Tom Giles (Miss Littlewood – Royal Shakespeare Company) as ‘Elrond/Saruman’, Charlotte Grayson (Whistle Down The Wind – The Watermill Theatre) as ‘Rosie’, Nuwan Hugh Perera (Life of Pi – Wyndham’s Theatre, West End) as ‘Sam’, Bridget Lappin (The Rhinegold – English National Opera) as ‘Ensemble/Dance Captain’, Georgia Louise (Tammy Faye – Almeida Theatre) as ‘Galadriel’, Elliot Mackenzie (Whistle Down The Wind – The Watermill Theatre) as ‘Ensemble’, Peter Marinker (Judge DreddLove, ActuallyLabyrinth) as ‘Gandalf’, Louis Maskell (The Grinning Man – Bristol Old Vic & Trafalgar Studios, West End) as ‘Frodo’, Aoife O’Dea (Innocence – Royal Opera House) as ‘Arwen’, John O’Mahony (Fisherman’s Friends the Musical, UK Tour) as ‘Bilbo’, Yazdan Qafouri (The Band – Theatre Royal Haymarket, West End) as ‘Legolas’, Sioned Saunders (Amélie – Criterion Theatre, West End & The Watermill Theatre) as ‘Ensemble/Onstage Musical Director’ and Aaron Sidwell (EastEnders – BBC, Wicked – UK Tour) as ‘Aragorn’.

The Lord of the Rings will play at the Watermill from Tuesday 25 July until Sunday 15 October 2023.  Tickets are on sale via watermill.org.uk/The-Lord-Of-The-Rings

As the Hobbits celebrate Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy-first birthday, he gifts his nephew Frodo his inheritance – including his most precious belonging – a gold ring. Little does he know that his legacy will confront Frodo with an immense and impossible task; a perilous journey across the darkest realms of Mordor to foil the Dark Lord’s quest for total dominion. 

Paul Hart said, “Welcoming the cast and creative teams into rehearsals this week has been hugely exciting.  The Lord of the Rings is one of the most epic stories ever written, and our production will hopefully bring audiences closer to the heart of this story than ever before – both figuratively and literally in our intimate 200 seat theatre.  What’s central to this production is that we’re telling it through the perspective of the Hobbits and hopefully audiences will experience our depiction of Middle-earth with the same awe and wonderment. We’re so fortunate to be working with an incredible creative team and a truly multi-skilled group of performers and we’re determined to make a piece of theatre that will live long in the memory of all who see it!”

Claire Murray said, “For twelve weeks, we are welcoming audiences to experience this incredible musical in our very special corner of West Berkshire. We’re so excited to welcome new audiences to the theatre, coming from far and wide to visit our beautiful grounds for the first time, as well as our wonderful and loyal audiences who have visited us many times before, to see us using our space in a new and exciting way.  With the design of the show spilling out from the theatre across our gardens, audiences will be welcomed into the Shire for dinner and drinks in our Restaurant or Garden Café on the lawn, before joining in the celebrations for Bilbo’s birthday which marks the start of the show.  Any production is a team effort, and we’re so grateful to our wider community for their support, particularly those who are so kindly hosting our thirty-strong company this summer, and all those who are sharing in our excitement.

Fredrica Drotos, Director of Brand and Licensing at Middle-earth Enterprises added; “Middle-earth Enterprises along with our good partners at Kevin Wallace Ltd can’t imagine a more fitting locale for the live staging of the Fellowship’s epic adventures from the Shire to Mordor, and back again, than at the Watermill Theatre, set in the bucolic Berkshire countryside.”

The Lord of the Rings will be directed by Paul Hart with design by Simon Kenny, Musical Supervision and Orchestrations by Mark Aspinall, Choreography by Anjali Mehra, Lighting Design by Rory Beaton, Sound Design by Adam Fisher, Projection Design by George Reeve, Associate Directed by Sibylla Archdale Kalid, Puppet Design by Charlie Tymms, and Puppetry Direction by Ashleigh Cheadle. The stage management team are Cat Pewsey (CSM), Katie Newton (DSM), Natalie Toney and Fern Bamber (ASMs) with –Leila Stephenson (ASM Placement).

The Watermill is a 200-seat regional powerhouse, with an unparalleled reputation for producing bold, world-class theatre with local and national reach from its home in West Berkshire. It also has an extensive programme of community outreach, and schools touring work, and a firm commitment to inclusion, environmental sustainability and talent development. 

It was the most expensive stage show to date when it opened in Toronto in 2006; but after just one brief year in London, The Lord of the Rings musical closed in July 2008. Now it is being revived, at a small theatre in Berkshire, UK.

The Watermill Theatre, near Newbury in Berkshire, will present an immersive, partially outdoor production of the musical this summer. Their website states that it will be a ‘brand new intimate production’; it will of necessity be massively scaled down from the $25million West End production. Even if the Watermill Theatre had the budget, they don’t have the space which the Theatre Royal Drury Lane production required. The Watermill Theatre’s website tells us, ‘Bursting out of the theatre and into the Watermill gardens, be immersed in the magical landscape of Tolkien and join an ensemble cast and large-scale puppets on an epic journey celebrating the power of friendship and common goodness to conquer unimaginable evil.’

It’s exciting to think that the work will be seen by more people than were able to see it during those brief two years in Toronto and London. It’s not the first attempt to revive this musical; back in 2013, Playbill announced a world tour, planned for 2015 and starting in New Zealand, but nothing more was heard. This time, however, the dates are set (July 25 – Oct 15 this year), and tickets go on sale later this month.

BATS Theatre in Wellington, NZ is well-known to our Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie family. Many of the New Zealand actors from the films have performed there, and back in 2011, to save the theatre from eviction, Peter Jackson bought the building in which they are housed. It’s a local theatre which particularly supports new and emerging talent.

Now BATS Theatre are having a fundraiser, supported by Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop. Part of the fundraising effort includes a chance to win epic prizes, including having prosthetic make-up done by Taylor himself! You can read all about it here; there are only a couple more days to enter, so don’t delay, if you’d like to support a worthy cause and maybe win something incredible.