What are we talking about?
A double bill of two new short operas: The Doctor's Tale, about a doctor who happens to be a dog, and The Tell-Tale Heart, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's gothic short story.
Poe, Pythons and Police: The Operas.
Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, is the librettist and director for The Doctor's Tale; Anne Dudley, who won an Oscar for The Full Monty soundtrack, is composing the music. Bringing Poe's short story to life is Stewart Copeland, former drummer of The Police, who has since turned his hand to scoring films and composing ballets and operas. Jonathan Moore, who worked with Mark-Anthony Turnage on the opera Greek, directs.
In The Tell-Tale Heart, baritone Richard Suart plays Edgar – the narrator – and tenor Philip Sheffield is his victim, Alan (see what they did there?). Bass-baritone Richard Strivens plays "Shadow Edgar", the narrator's dark side.
The Early Buzz
The first OperaShots last June generated fuss when three opera virgins, Nitin Sawhney, Orlando Gough and Jocelyn Pook, had a "shot" at re-invigorating the form. But it's all been eerily silent this time. However, Moore gave us an insight into the thinking behind the Poe adaptation: "We were interested in the ideas of duality that were around in literature and philosophy at the time and what happens (in a pre-Jungian world) when the dark aspects of a person aren't properly integrated and a healthy balance is not attained." Jones, however, simply told The Daily Telegraph he was working on "a very silly libretto".
Jones seems to have a thing for canine anthropomorphism; he's also working on a film which features "aliens, a goofy Brit, a talking dog and buckets of silliness". Robin Williams is thought to be voicing Dennis the Dog.
It's great that...
Copeland and Moore are clearly Poe geeks: in 1993 Copeland wrote a chamber opera based on The Cask of Amontillado, which Moore directed.
It's a shame that...
There are only six performances.
Jones and Copeland should bring intrigued newcomers to the world of opera. And, given both have some form with staging operas, this isn't a total shot in the dark.
OperaShots is at the Linbury Studio Theatre, The Royal Opera House, London WC2 (0207- 304 4000; roh.org.uk) 8 to 16 Apr.