Authors pen 15-minute operas in effort to entice younger audience
Monday 11 February 2008
It is enough to steam up the opera glasses of purists who spend their Saturday afternoons at La Scala and Covent Garden. For one of the most traditional of art forms is set for a makeover in coming weeks that will see well-known novelists take charge of 15-minute-long productions set against gritty urban backdrops.
Celebrated writers such as Ian Rankin, the creator of the Rebus series, and Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels, are just two of the literary stars who have signed up to Five:15, a Scottish Opera initiative aimed at reaching out to a new generation.
Out go the big budgets, lengthy run times and large venues. But in come the stars from the world of literature and music, who have been asked to produce 15-minute operas which will sit beside each other at sold-out shows in small theatres in Glasgow and Edinburgh early next month.
Also involved is the film composer Craig Armstrong, who has written music for movies including Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet and Love Actually, and the novelists Ron Butlin and Bernard MacLaverty.
Their operas range from Rankin's Gesualdo, which tells the harrowing tale of the murderous composer Carlo Gesualdo, to Queens of Govan, the story of a 15-year-old girl who works in a kebab shop in Glasgow's gritty Govan area. And, should next month's shows be a success, there could be scope for the writers to produce more, perhaps full-length, shows in the future.
Describing his opera when it was commissioned last year, Rankin said: "It's a true story of a 16th-century Italian nobleman who killed his wife, his wife's lover, and his son. He repents but he is eventually killed by his second wife."
He added: "When I was in a punk band I used to write lyrics but that was 25 years ago. Everything I touch turns into a thriller."
McCall Smith's opera is based on his collection of Celtic myths, Dream Angus.
Alex Reedijk, the Scottish Opera's general director, said that the writing of the shows started in spring 2007. "The bite-sized operas could provide a blueprint – in terms of subject matter – for longer versions in coming months," he said.
"Five:15 is about questioning what opera could or should look like in the 21st century. I've been as interested in the process – how they get there – as I am in the outcome."
The shows, which feature all five 15-minute operas, will be staged on the first weekend of March at Glasgow's ÒranMòr and the following weekend in The Hub in Edinburgh. All are sold out.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Downton Abbey season 5 episode 6 - review: Thomas and Lady Edith show sad signs of the times
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd