Though there are traces of Britten in the score, it’s not the dark, sexualised world of Peter Grimes or Death in Venice, but the innocuous holiday atmosphere of Albert Herring.
So we can relax then (though I don’t think that anyone imagnied it was ‘sexualised’ – just contained a couple of words that a couple of people considered unsuitable for elementary school ears). Opera North’s blog reports:
The cast of Beached spirits weren’t dampened by typical British rain on Saturday as they brought sun, sea, sand and singing to The Spa, Bridlington for two successful performances. Opera North’s community opera Beached, written by composer Harvey Brough to a text by Lee Hall, was performed twice on Saturday by hundreds of local residents. Performers spanning ages 2-82, took part in the creative, innovative and liberating show based around ‘a day at the beach’.
Some of the highlights of the one and a half hour production included OAPs whizzing around the ‘sand’ on mobility scooters, thirty toddlers dressed as sea creatures and outstanding performances from local community members.
Audience member Glen Lee from Hull said:
I loved ‘Beached’. It was really interesting to read in the programme about how much work Opera North has done in Bridlington – I don’t think I have seen anything before in which such a range of ages and abilities have worked together to produce such a witty, pacey and musically exciting performance.”
As The Guardian sums up:
What [Lee] Hall and [Harvey] Brough have created is a social panorama for 400 local performers featuring squabbling families (who would rather be in Ibiza), slow-moving coach parties of shuffling pensioners and, yes, a gay painter who is picked on by the local yobs, who desist when they mistake him for Alan Bennett.
Brough’s score is bouncy, jazzy and surprisingly sophisticated, while Karen Gillingham’s production keeps everyone involved, from a primary school chorus of nodding sea anemones to an inspired waltz for shopping trolleys and mobility scooters. Hall’s witty libretto acquires a whole new layer of irony when a schoolteacher instructs her charges: “We expect the very pinnacle of educational propriety/ So any funny business and lack of sobriety/ Will result in punishment and instant notoriety.” The bad news is that the project, two years in the making, is already over. The good news is that it happened at all.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.