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Ice cream vans channel Shakespeare in Aussie's new opera

News - Classical Music | Opera

Ice cream vans channel Shakespeare in Aussie's new opera

by Angus McPherson on July 14, 2017 (July 14, 2017) filed under Classical Music | Opera | Comment Now
A contemporary opera in Yorkshire, with music by Russell Sarre, sees two rival ice cream vending families face off.

A plague on both your ice cream vans! A new operatic retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet will pit two ice cream vending families against each other in Ice Cream: The Opera. The performances will take place in City Park, using two ice cream vans.

Ice Cream: The Opera is a joint production between Skipton Building Society Camerata and Freedom Studios with a libretto by Yorkshire Post columnist Ian McMillan and music written by Australian composer Russell Sarre. Telling the story of two families who have been engaged in a turf war for generations – with lovers Romano and Geetha caught in the middle – the opera will be just 30 minutes long.

Ice Cream: The OperaIce Cream: The Opera. Photo Joe Armitage, Boneshaker Photography.

“Traditional opera can last for hours and while there is a place for that it can put people off,” McMillan told the Yorkshire Post. “I guess this is our way of luring people in and by performing it in City Park we will hopefully catch people unawares as they are walking past. In opera the words only do so much, what you really want is to get lost in the music.”

The chamber opera for four singers and a community chorus features influences from Indian music. “I have had to find a sitar player,” said Ben Crick, founder of Skipton Building Society Camerata. “I have never had to find one of those before, it’s not an instrument Beethoven or Mozart had much use for. However, as a group we have always been pretty adaptable. “I am a great believer that classical music should be open to everyone. These kind of performances are great, because they absolutely tick that box.”

The composer, Sarre, was born in Australia but has had his music performed around the world – from The White House to London’s West End. His Brexodus! The Musical, which he co-composed with Frederick Appleby, opened at London’s The Other Palace earlier this week. Sarre, who is also a guitarist, has composed for film, theatre, dance, opera and the concert stage. He has also taught at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Ice Cream: The Opera will have its world premiere on July 30 at the Bradfield Festival. “I’m very excited that the Ice Cream Opera I wrote the words for is going to be produced in Bradford,” McMillan told The Telegraph and Argus. “I think that opera is the perfect form for our angry and excitable times, and this one can't be licked. It's so hot it'll melt your heart.”

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