Press Release: Diverse cast unite in Bushra El-Turk’s Silk Moth

Ruthless Jabiru welcomes lauded British-Egyptian mezzo Camille Maalawy to perform the principal role of Mother in the orchestra’s forthcoming production Silk Moth for Grimeborn Festival 2019.

Maalawy has won critical acclaim for her passion and expressiveness across Arabic and Sephardic song in addition to continuing success on the opera and concert stage. Her advocacy work has included collaborations with Music Beyond Frontiers, Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum: Israeli-Palestinian Families for Peace, Voices Foundation, St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and the charity Hafla promoting Middle-Eastern co-existence; alongside projects for Royal Opera House, Mahogany Opera, Battersea Arts Centre, Spitalfields Music and Wigmore Hall.

A chamber opera by composer Bushra El-Turk and librettist Eleanor Knight, Silk Moth explores the story of a mother implicated in the gender abuse and honour killing of her own daughter. Sung in English, the role of Mother calls for a rare agility across Arabic and operatic vocal styles in equal measure.

“I am delighted to be involved with this project,” Maalawy said, “not only because of the way specific Arabic musical components are interwoven with western classical idioms, but because opera is the ideal medium to confront such challenging subject matter. I so enjoyed bringing the orchestral songs of Palestinian composer Patrick Lama to Wigmore Hall and am proud to be in a position to continue to champion contemporary Arabic composers.”

Maalawy will be joined by a mixed ensemble comprising actors Mona Khalili and Karim Jabri representing Daughter and Father, and vocalists Shira Agmon (Israel), Sophie Atalar (Turkey/Azerbaijan) and Aivale Cole (New Zealand/Samoa); who will together illuminate Mother’s memories and psychological landscape through the signature choreographic opera approach of director Heather Fairbairn.

“I’m really looking forward to Ruthless Jabiru’s Silk Moth and to working with this extraordinary team”, said London actor, director and writer Khalili, who plays the daughter around whose fate the opera spins. “We are bringing to life a devastating story through which I hope we can spark awareness and increase conversations for the abolishment of these practices.”

Khalili’s credits include productions for Vault Festival, Theatre503, Katzspace Theatre, Camden People’s Theatre, Studio Soho, Bread & Roses Theatre, Chelsea Theatre and National Youth Theatre. She has appeared in numerous independent films, How they caught: Story of Shafilea for BBC television, and curates Freshworks for the Directors Programme at the Young Vic Theatre.

El-Turk and Knight’s 30-minute opera will be extended to include framing works by composers Liza Lim and Cassandra Miller to form a continuous, hour-long musical triptych.

Founded in 2011 by conductor Kelly Lovelady, Ruthless Jabiru is a London chamber orchestra uniquely dedicated to exploring humanitarian, sustainability and social justice stories through music. Musical programmes are devised around existing and commissioned repertoire by today’s composers with a direct, implied or sonic link to topical issues. By combining its dual advocacy for contemporary composers and Activist narratives, Ruthless Jabiru aims to use deep listening to re-examine politicised stories and invite compassionate reflection.

Ruthless Jabiru will perform Silk Moth at the Arcola Theatre on 09, 10 & 11 August at 20:00 and 10 & 11 August at 15:00:


Liza Lim The Heart’s Ear
Bushra El-Turk Silk Moth
Cassandra Miller Bel Canto


Camille Maalawy mother
Mona Khalili daughter/ensemble
Karim Jabri father/ensemble
Shira Agmon ensemble
Sophie Atalar ensemble
Aivale Cole ensemble


Kelly Lovelady conductor
Heather Fairbairn director
Charlotte Henery set and costume designer
Sean Gleason lighting designer
Sapphire Goss video artist
Eleanor Knight librettist


Kevin Wilson
+44 208 673 0658

Kelly Lovelady
+44 772 623 8648


Camille Maalawy © Doubletake Studios
Mona Khalili © Sam Irons

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