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Edward Rushton's The Shops, with a libretto by Dagny Gioulami, has been described as ‘part satire on rampant consumerism, part psychological thriller’: its central character, Christoph Schmalhans, is an obsessive stamp collector, stealing prize examples from museums with the aid of his girlfriend Francesca, who distracts attention by causing scenes. His activities inevitably attract the interest of the police and psychologists, and interjections from a support group of shopaholics.


Christoph Schmalhans is a collector. Each item in his collection has been individually stolen from museums and galleries.

Christoph works in a shop alongside his girlfriend Francesca. She helps his thefts from museums by causing disturbances which act as decoys. She goes shopping to spend the rewards Christoph gives her. Following his arrest, Christoph is interviewed by a stamp collecting policeman and analyzed by a psychologist. They report to Christoph’s trial.

Christoph’s father left his mother when he was still a child. He now lives alone with his mother, but refuses ever to allow her into his bedroom. When Francesca tells her about his arrest, his mother decides to destroy the collection.

The Opera Group

Darren Abrahams, tenor - Christoph       
Anna Dennis, soprano - Francesca, his girlfriend   
Phyllis Cannan, contralto - Adele, his mother
Richard Burkhard, baritone - Oliver, a police officer   
Louise Mott, mezzo-soprano - Cordula, a psychiatrist
Paul Reeves, bass - Roger, retired journalist

Patrick Bailey, conductor


Paul Plummer, assistant conductor


John Fulljames, director


"A witty, telling and rather timely critique of consumerism ... Rushton, a modernist by inclination, but one with a light and lyrical touch, writes beautifully for the voice, and Gioulami's libretto - which also makes space for a wonderfully parodic consumers' self-help group - does its job brilliantly. Patrick Bailey ably conducts the Opera Group's excellent performance." The Sunday Times


Produced in association with BBC Radio 3


Royal Opera House, London in collaboration with BBC Radio 3.
Workshop development through OperaGenesis, an ROH2 initiative, developed in association with the Genesis Foundation.

Producer for BBC Radio 3: PHILIP TAGNEY
Producer for NMC Recordings: DAVID LEFEBER
Recording Engineer for BBC Radio 3: MARVIN WARE
Editing and Mastering: DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS

Cover image: ANJA KÖHLER

(P) 2008 NMC Recordings Ltd / BBC / The Opera Group

Catalogue number:
NMC D146
Release Date:
16 June 2008