An opera about 9/11, latest of the “newsreel operas”

Posted on: April 10, 2015

“English National Opera’s Between Worlds, about 9/11—and so-called newsreel opera—has to tread a very difficult line,” writes Andrew Clements in Thursday’s Guardian (4/9). “Ever since composer Tansy Davies and librettist Nick Drake settled on the events of 9/11 as the starting point for their opera Between Worlds for ENO, they must have known what a difficult subject they were tackling. … Creating operas out of real events, whether in the recent or more distant past, is almost as old as the art form itself. It began in 1643 when Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, set in Rome in AD 64, was staged in Venice…. What is sometimes called newsreel opera really began in the 1980s, with John Adams’s Nixon in China…. While such works haven’t proliferated in the wake of Nixon, there have been enough of them … to create an operatic category of their own. It is one into which, presumably, Between Worlds will fall, too (although the characters in Drake’s libretto are fictional creations).” Among operas cited are Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face, and Nico Muhly’s Two Boys.

Posted April 10, 2015