Contemporary opera makes the first of several appearances at the Gulbenkian next month; before Tokaido Road comes on May 23, Jonathan Dove’s Swanhunter swoops into the theatre on May 1 and 2.
An Opera North production composed to a libretto by Alasdair Middleton, the opera draws on the Finnish folkore epic, the Kalevala, in which Lemminkäinen travel to the icy north to face the Devil’s Elk and the Swan on Death’s River.
Told using puppetry in collaboration with The Wrong Crowd, the opera (written in 2009 with young audiences in mind) is billed as being ‘as much for adults as it is for children.’ Dove is the accessible end of contemporary music, as his beguiling choral anthems and rumbustious The Passing of the Year attest, and his prolific output includes music written for community music-making as much as for professionals.
”We’re really thrilled to be bringing contemporary opera for family audiences to the Gulbenkian,” enthuses the theatre’s creative producer, Mairi Coyle. ”Both Opera North and the Wrong Crowd have impressive international reputations in the fields of music theatre and the fact that they’ve come together with a top British composer to create such an inventive fusion of opera, puppetry and live action is really exciting and we’re proud to be part of it.”