You Who Will Emerge From the Flood, Victoria Baths, Manchester
Thursday 28 May 2009
Was it worth filling the first class male pool of the Victoria Baths with 86,000 gallons of water for You Who Will Emerge from the Flood – the world's first underwater "operella", as its composer, Andrew Infanti, describes it? Presented by Queer Up North festival and the University of Manchester, it gave the Los Angeles soprano Juliana Snapper a rare chance to show off her unique "mouth-to-water" vocalising technique.
A lot of gurgling, gargling, humming and squawking that is, accompanied by the peculiar popping sound of pitched bubbles, broken up by snatches of undiluted, intense soprano tones. For the capacity audience, perched on balconies beneath the glazed vaulted ceiling of the semi-derelict winner of BBC2's Restoration, it was an experience like no other.
With a 35-minute delay in starting, there was time to appreciate the handmade tiles and stained glass adorning the Gala Pool, as it was once known, and watch as the Sink or Swim choir took up its position in the iron and wood changing cubicles lining the pool.
The programme explained that Blorkra, sung by Snapper, is a genetically engineered aquatic posthuman living 500,000 years in the future. Her eventual arrival was visually stunning. Half submerged in white fishnet and silver sequins, this apparition was helped into the water by two "humans" then marooned on a wooden plinth. There she mooched and morphed and mewled for nearly an hour – a blob of candy floss-like gauze – weaving an unintelligible dramatic thread out of texts by Wedekind, Wagner and Brecht sung in German and Volapuk (an archaic international language).
Blorkra's hallucinations involve a genetic scientist and a swamp-dweller, both of whom we see on film footage interspersed with occasional live projections of Snapper's underwater contortions. The choir provided a ghostly backing but when they rolled off the poolside to float apparently dead in the water, they summed up the event pretty well.
No-one could fault Snapper for her total immersion in her role, though a disastrous technical failure of the microphone seriously damaged the audibility of her underwater vocal sequences. But Infanti's pastiche score was little more than a wobbly, wavering distortion of the worst kind.
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head