Monday, October 23, 2006

"the homeless are the people you step over coming out of the opera"

I love opera, though I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste, I guess it is just because I was brought up listening to it alongside with The Beatles. I definitely don’t see it as an elitist pursuit, and in fact take great pleasure in treating it like an everyday activity, rather than an event. The Guardian today really warmed my heart with its article, much of which I admit to lifing here, as well as shocking me that any minister can be quite so crass. Keith WarnerWaring has produced Ring cycles in London and Tokyo, staged Lohengrin in Bayreuth and won an Olivier for his Royal Opera production of Wozzeck. At the peak of his career, he can now choose to do anything he wants. Which makes it all the more surprising that he has elected to head north for Tyneside to work among the homeless.

Few companies could entice Warner to make the leap from opera house to a homeless shelter, but Matthew Peacock of Streetwise Opera is a persuasive man. A former arts journalist, Peacock was working in a homeless shelter when the then Tory minister George Young's comment "the homeless are the people you step over coming out of the opera" so enraged him he resolved to set up a company that put the homeless on stage. Warners says “…the point at which you've done the Ring at Covent Garden and Lohengrin at Bayreuth is precisely the time when you ought to consider doing something like this. It's a chance to remind yourself why you got involved in the business in the first place, away from the usual aesthetic arguments and the tedious crap you get from critics."
The result is the production Whirlwind which is at the Sage, Gateshead, from tomorrow until Thursday. Box office: 0191-443 4661.

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