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.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 Stephen Hawking endorses Labour in the General Election
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show film
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding