Nolan is a man of many hats: an esteemed musician, arranger,
songwriter and producer for bands such as Arena, Pendragon, Neo,
Strangers on a Train, Shadowland, Casino, as well as provider of
solos for Dutch concept-album masters Ayreon and britmetallers
DragonForce. But his pet-headgear since February 2005 is a
rock-opera project called Caamora. Aided by friends from his
extensive register of friends in the British neo-prog world and a
brand new song-bird from Poland, Nolan has created an adventurous
musical journey. The concept is an adaptation of a book by the
name of “She”, written by Victorian adventure writer Henry
Rider Haggard. Here´s a brief summary of the plot:
voyagers, Holly and Leo, travel to Eastern Africa in search of a
mysterious legend of which Leo was told by his father. During a
heavy storm they are washed up on the shore, soon to be found by a
small group of natives led by an attractive woman whose name is
Ustane. They are brought to the queen, Ayesha, who has made
herself immortal by bathing in fire. She becomes the omnipotent
female figure. She is to be both desired and feared. She is a
breathtakingly beautiful being who will not hesitate to kill any
one who displeases her or stands in her way. The travellers
discover that Ayesha has been waiting for 2000 years for the
reincarnation of her lover Kallicrates, whom she had slain in a
burst of jealous rage. She believes that Leo is the reincarnation
of Kallicrates. In the culmination of the story, Ayesha takes the
two men to see the volcano. She wants Leo to bathe in its flames
as she did so that he can become immortal and remain with her
forever. His doubts about its safety lead her to step into the
blaze once more. However, with this second get-together with the
flames she reverts to her true age and immediately withers and
dies. Before dying she tells Leo, "Wait for me, I shall
return again for you Kallicrates."
following conversation came to pass in an exciting half-hour call
with the creative nucleus of Caamora, Clive Nolan and Agnieszka
a man full of activity and creative ability Mr Nolan.
Keyboardplayer in Arena and Pendragon, a hired hand for Ayreon and
Dragonforce, yet you find time to open up new projects every now
and then. How come you don´t release these projects under the
Well, since this is an opera it obviously doesn´t fit within the
Arena framework. It´s a matter of wearing different hats for
different occasions really.
is Caamora and what is the origin of the word?
Caamora is a project of which Agnieszka Swita and I are the core.
The word refers to a ritual that certain characters perform in a
series of novels called The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Within
these books it means ‘to cleanse by fire’.
quite a departure from your work with Arena and Pendragon. But you´ve
been involved in comparable projects before, haven´t you?
referring to the albums “Jabberwocky” and “The Hound of the
Baskervilles” you did with Oliver Wakeman.
Okay, but here we have the rock opera concept complete with
orchestrations and a choir, so this takes the idea even further.
book on which your opera is based was written by Victorian
adventure writer H. Rider Haggard. How did you come across that
I saw a version of the film “She” when I was a child and I’ve
been carrying the story with me ever since. You can imagine how
strongly such subjects as immortality, death and the afterlife
might get stuck in the mind of a ten-year-old.
is Caamora conceptually tied to the rockopera “She”, or is it
possible that Caamora could perform other projects as well?
Since Agnieszka and I are the core of it, sure.
been preparing “She” in a rather different way compared to
regular album releases. Could you fill me in please?
Well it´s been a big part of our lives for three years now. We´ve
been writing and making demos as well as doing what we call
That way we could try out the material on audiences in Europe and
South America. This was very important for us so we could pick the
bits that people liked and build the compositions from there.
Especially the vocal-parts and my singing grew and developed
during this time on the road.
In the end we had so much material that we had problems cutting it
down to two hours.
choise of instruments really make a significant impact. Was it an
original idea of yours or did the thought of adding classical
instruments appear later on in the production, and how did you
decide what direction the music should take?
It was all very natural because the plan always was to create an
opera with orchestrations and a choir. The classical instruments
add a different coloring and textures to the music, and we´re
happy that we got these talented musicians to this project.
must have been a really difficult task to mix the classical parts
with the rock parts. What were your biggest challenges in trying
to capture the musical vision of yours?
The biggest challenge was to make it sound as one integrated work;
the rock band and the orchestra together in unison. It was a great
challenge for Karl Groom (Threshold), who mixed it.
seem to have a thorough understanding of classical music. Tell me
about your influences and training.
I have two university degrees, in orchestration and in conducting.
I was always surrounded by classical music at home, so my musical
roots are really classical. I also play the violin. I didn´t
really get into rock music until much later.
I listened to the singing performed and fitted it to the
characters of the story, it struck me how well the voices
harmonized with what I imagined. What did you look for as you
casted vocalists? Did
you have any particular ideal you were aiming for?
It was Agnieszka. It all builds around her, and it was a natural
process to find what was needed to complement her. For the part of
Holly, I wanted a gruff dramatic voice. That part was performed by
Alan Reed (Pallas).
It took a long time to find what we wanted for Ustane though. It
had to have certain qualites, like in the song “Confrontation”
where the Queen, Ayesha, sings together with Ustane. In the end we
found Christina Booth from Magneta, and she´s perfect.
Swita performs the part of the mysterious queen Ayesha, and passes
with flying colors. Did you find her in some hidden city on the
eastern shores of Africa, Mr Nolan?
On my doorstep, actually.
We have a mutual friend, Magda, from Poland, who introduced us as
I was visiting her in England. She brought me to Clives house.
are your previous experiences from the music scene Ms Swita?
None really, at least not professional. I´ve sung in different
talent competitions and as a student I sang in pubs and clubs.
think it´s quite incredible that such a talent, that nobody has
ever heard of, can appear from out of nowhere, and pull off a job
There is lots of talent out there, lots of really gifted people.
you decided to carry the part of Leo yourself Mr Nolan. Could it
be that you have a certain sympathy for his personality?
I´m no fan of Leos actually. I think he is a rather spineless
person. As a matter of fact I rewrote some of his lines to make
him more likeable, to make him look better than he does in the
original book. I did the part myself because I really wanted to
sing, and this being partly my project, I felt that I could (laughs).
“The sands of time”, 3rd scene in the 2nd
act, Leo sings: “For me the choise has long been made – my
future has been written – I cannot turn away from this – when
such a chance is given”. Does this apply to your personal view
of life as well?
I think it´s relevant to me. The lyrics are about destiny –
it´s the point of the book.
since Ayesha is immortal and Leo steps into the flames, there
ought to be clues for a sequel, right?
Well, we don´t really know about Leo do we?.
It´s up to everybody to interpret the story. And right now we are
in the middle of “She” and happy with it. Who knows what will
There is a sequel to the book, and a prequel as well. But we don´t
think about this as a part of that series. This is just an
adaptation of one of them.
is already tried and tested in it´s entirety at Katowice, Poland.
Are you happy with the results?
It went really well considering that we didn´t even have time for
a full dress rehearsal. As a matter of fact the entire 2nd
act was performed with a lot of ad-libing.
Very happy! Everybody involved was very talented and dedicated.
it your debut as an actor or do you have any previous experiences
from the theatre?
I have two or three films under my belt (laughs), no we were all
if someone was to approach you with an offer to star in a play or
even a movie perhaps. How would you respond?
How much? (laughs)
further performances booked yet? You know we have some really nice
theatres in Sweden as well.
Oh great, ha ha…If you could get any promoter interested in
booking us, of course. But it´s a large scale production
involving 25 persons on stage.
But we might do it in the intimate two-man show setting as well.
in store for the rest of this year if everything goes according to
your hopes and wishes?
We are bringing Caamora to South America at the end of April. And
then we´ll do more two-man shows.
finally, “She” is going to be released in different packages.
Yes, lot of different formats. There´s the regular double CD
which we call the “vanilla version”, a double digipack CD with
a bonus track, a double dvd plus package and a triple vinyl with a
bonus track. The deluxe box set edition will feature the double
studio CD, a double live CD, the DVD, a bonus DVD featuring six
acoustic tracks and couple of nice postcards you can attach to
your bedroom wall. Try downloading that one (laughs).
Me? Ha ha ha…I´m not going to try that one. Well thank you for
your time Ms Swita and Mr Nolan, and the best of luck to you and
and Clive: Thank you and bye-bye!