The Owl and the Pussycat takes to the water
Opera by Terry Jones and Anne Dudley serenades the canals of London.
The Owl and the Pussycat is not your run of the mill opera. The stage has been replaced with a Narrow boat and the auditorium with a spectator-lined canal. Six musicians squash into a tent-like space beneath a large upturned book, and a colourful cast of characters perform enthusiastically around it.
The ROH2 production was commissioned with the idea of taking opera to strange places and new audiences, something which it has certainly achieved.
A water-bound spectacle, the opera is currently travelling from west to east along London’s canals and waterways, being performed at venues where people would never think of hearing opera. Fun, free and family-friendly, it provides the perfect introduction to opera.
The opera, directed by Martin Constantine, is one of the highlights of the Mayor of London’s ‘Secrets’, a series of artistic collaborations designed to highlight London’s hidden gem locations.
You can hear more about the spectacle directly from the artists involved with a short film on the BBC website.
Librettist Terry Jones, ex-Monty Python, has created a funny and dramatic tale, set to an exciting score commissioned from Oscar-winning composer Anne Dudley. The duo, who collaborated earlier this season in Operashots: The Doctor’s Tale, have based their work loosely on Edward Lear’s nonsense poem The Owl and the Pussycat – a fitting tale for a water-bound opera.
Read more about Jones’ inspiration for the libretto.
The ‘opera-barge’ has already held performances at Brentford Lock and Horsenden Farm. Three performances remain, taking place on Sunday 29 July at 3pm and 6pm in Graham Street Gardens, and on Tuesday 31 July at 6pm in Mile End Park. All performances are free, though get there early to ensure a spot.
View our gallery of behind-the-scenes pictures: