PAMELA TAN-NICHOLSON’S RADICAL NEW ADAPTATION OF THREE LEGENDARY OPERAS
by Fairy Powered Productions
THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED WORLD PREMIERE OF – TRIOPERAS – TURANDOT, BUTTERFLY & CARMEN – PAMELA TAN-NICHOLSON’S RADICAL NEW ADAPTATION OF THREE LEGENDARY OPERAS
For the first time ever, three of the world’s most famous female-led operas have been dramatically revised with their stories told through the eyes of composer and interpreter, Pamela Tan–Nicholson, for the world premiere of TriOperas, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the UK’s women’s suffrage, Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on 8th March.
This radical new show, inspired by three of the best known female characters in opera, Turandot, Madam Butterfly and Carmen, opens at the Peacock Theatre on 23 May, for a limited season until 1 July, with press night on 29 May 2018.
TriOperas portrays the three women as reluctant heroines generations ahead of their time. Turandot is a cross-dressing daredevil warrior-princess, Madame Butterfly is an ambitious and proud Japanese geisha, and Carmen, the free-spirited Spanish gypsy party girl. This innovative production, which challenges conventional depictions of the female protagonists, features a glorious fusion of classical music, musical theatre, circus, martial arts and dance.
Uniquely, TriOperas has been designed for all female cast members to rotate roles in the three operas. Nine multi-talented female performers from a variety of artistic disciplines and backgrounds feature in the production – Sianna Bruce, Keedie Green, Sara Hamilton, Lucy Kay, Martina Mennell, Sarah Naudi, Shoreina Pereira, Katie Shalka and Chiarra Vinci.
Each role has a distinct emotional journey and every actor faces different artistic, dramatic and technical challenges. Cast rotation is intended to keep portrayal of each role sharp, fresh and non-routine. This is especially important in opera where musical performance drives the story and emotions are expressed in a multitude of ways. This also ties in with Tan-Nicholson’s philosophy that every woman can identify, in one way or another, with each female character in TriOperas.
In this challenging production, many of the roles are not gender-specific and male/female cast members interchange, understudy and double for each other. The performers require superb vocal skills to meet the demanding operatic repertoire, convincing dramatic authority over a range of extreme emotions, and physical discipline to perform a dazzling variety of dance and stunts.
Pamela Tan-Nicholson said, “What I have tried to achieve with TriOperas is to provoke a fresh understanding of these three eponymous women, and as well to push the boundaries of what opera is and can be for a 21st century audience – a contemporary, all-inclusive, all-action art form. Traditionally, the women in these operas are represented one-dimensionally – predictable and almost pantomime-like characterisations relying on sexist and racist stereotypes. Puccini and Bizet, male composers of the original operas, portrayed women as villains or victims, bitches or losers. In their era, men had little insight (or interest) either in women or in their unspoken emotions and ambitions behind the façade of society norms.
I am so pleased to finally announce the female cast taking on these challenging roles. The auditions were a long and grueling process, but we have certainly found the most inspiring and interesting group of performers I have come across in my career. Courage and grit mixed with femininity and grace are notions central to TriOperas’ underlying theme, and run through all three stories, and all nine women bring a unique combination of skills, which I am very excited to explore in the rehearsal process.”
TriOperas, produced by the Covent Garden Soloists (CGS), merges opera singing with punk, rap, rock and hip-hop and an incredible display of acrobatics, kung-fu, puppetry, breakdancing, tap, ballet, salsa, Chinese lion wushu and parkour. Stories are brought to life by a stellar production team, including choreographers such as Royal Ballet Principal Steven McRae, Sadler’s Wells’ Breakin’ Convention Director Jonzi D, Masters Siow and Tang from Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association (holders of 65 world titles and still counting), and music director Vasko Vassilev, the Royal Opera House’s concertmaster and creative producer.
In 2017, UNESCO granted official patronage to the fully staged theatrical version of TriOperas. The project encompasses a complementary onsite exhibition supported by the V&A Museum and the Royal Opera House, TriOperas – Women Power World Opera, which will be running at the Peacock Theatre during TriOperas’ run from 23 May – 1 July.
The BRIT School enjoys the support of TriOperas, which is providing opportunities for students from different Departments of Study (Music, Musical Theatre, Dance and Technical Production) to gain access to practical training in the production. Students will be working with TriOperas mentors in pre-production, curating and rehearsals leading up to the opening of the exhibition and show in May.