Jack the Ripper

The Women of Whitechapel

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London, 1888. Terror is stalking the streets…

A vulnerable community of women lives in the dark shadow of poverty, vice and violence in the twisted labyrinth of the East End. Maud runs a dosshouse with her granddaughter Mary Kelly, who hopes to find a better life with her child and the local boy she loves. But while she tries to plan their escape, an unseen killer embarks on a series of brutal murders, sending the neighbourhood into a fever-pitch of fear and mistrust.

Iain Bell’s score for this new opera uses the eerie sound of the cimbalom to evoke the swirling London fog, while his writing for female chorus conjures up the bonds of comfort, friendship and love between the women. Daniel Kramer directs a powerful cast including Dame Josephine Barstow, Lesley Garrett and Elin Pritchard.

A co-commission and co-production with English National Opera.




£15 to £77.50*

Running time
Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes

Sung in English with English titles

Composer | Iain Bell

Librettist | Emma Jenkins

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London’s East End, 1888

Having recently been thrown out by her husband, Polly contemplates her new life on the street. She enters a dosshouse where a vulnerable group of women live, run by Maud and her granddaughter Mary.

4pm, the women go to work selling their bodies. The Commissioner of Police approaches Maud, requesting a ‘fresh parcel’. Maud confirms she can supply him with what he wants, Mary’s daughter Magpie.

Sergeant Strong arrives at the dosshouse to report Martha Tabram has been murdered. Catherine and Liz arrive, having just earnt a large amount of money posing for a photographer. Polly sets out into the night to find one more customer. Polly is consumed by darkness, Magpie sees everything.

News spreads that Polly has been murdered and Annie is missing. Fear spreads through the group…

Catherine has returned to the photographer’s house, where she stumbles across autopsy photographs of Polly and Annie. Believing she is in the hands of the Ripper, she attacks him and flees. Catherine and Liz are consumed by the darkness.

The community await the verdict on the death of Catherine and Liz. The pathologist offers his opinion on the nature of the killer, the mob is roused and wrongly identify Squibby, a young man from the local knacker’s yard, as the killer and beat him to death.

Mary and Magpie flee from Maud and the dosshouse, escaping to a hideout Magpie has been using. Together they fall asleep. Alone in the darkness, Mary awakes to find Magpie is gone. As she realises her moment of death has arrived, she enters the darkness defiantly.

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Jack the Ripper

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