Stravinsky, Then Cocteau and Now ... Sting Is Opera House Star
Brown, Jonathan, The Independent (London, England)
Elvis Costello also makes debut in Paris
THE Thetre du Chtelet, a Palladian opera house on the banks of the River Seine, has witnessed its fair share of grand opening nights since Baron Haussmann ordered its construction nearly 150 years ago. It was here that Igor Stravinsky chose to premiere his groundbreaking ballet Petrushka with Nijinsky in the starring role. Six years later, the world first witnessed Jean Cocteau's Parade, produced by Diaghilev and designed by Pablo Picasso, at the Chtelet.
Last night, it fell to two veterans of British new wave music, Sting and Elvis Costello, to make their debuts as opera stars at the historic Paris theatre on the first night of their collaboration, Welcome To The Voice. The piece, which was performed in workshop at the New York Jazz Festival in 2000 and recorded last year by the classical label Deutsche Grammophon, features the "Oliver's Army" singer in billowing robes as an authoritarian police chief.
Sting, 57, plays a Greek immigrant steelworker, Dionysos, who falls in love with an opera singer played by Sylvia Schwartz. Their passion is thwarted with apparently surprisingly realistic violence by the repressive Costello.
The performance is the latest and perhaps most extraordinary departure for either star, whose careers have been characterised as much by a refusal to conform to rock norms as they have been by commercial success.
Sting, as famous for his espousal of tantric sex and the rights of Amazonian rainforest tribes as he is for his eclectic musical output, said: "It is important sometimes to get outside your comfort zone just to see what happens. Neither of us has done this out of a sense that we're great enough to do opera now.
"We are here to learn something, but I think that about most things. We are here to learn about how we can expand what we do as rock singers."
Costello, meanwhile, who swapped the dead …
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Publication information: Article title: Stravinsky, Then Cocteau and Now ... Sting Is Opera House Star. Contributors: Brown, Jonathan - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 22, 2008. Page number: 10. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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