5 December 2013 at 4.17pm | Comment on this article
How the Whale Became will have its world premiere tomorrow night (Friday 6 December). Julian Philips's opera, directed by Natalie Abrahami with a libretto by Edward Kemp, is based on Ted Hughes’s short stories The Dreamfighter and Other Creation Tales.The magical collection charts how God created the world and the animals that inhabit it.
‘In Ted Hughes’s world,’ says Natalie, ‘there is this wacky sense of a rather idiosyncratic God who is a gardener and has his own allotment, but doesn’t really remember exactly what he has created and when. It is a wonderful and anarchic world in which to create an opera!’
The opera features an ensemble of 10 performers - five musicians and five singers - who take on a variety of different roles in the piece, ranging from the Frog to the Polar Bear to the Peacock. The set, which features everything from miniature Bonsai trees growing in boots to a drum-kit fashioned from kitchen utensils, is designed by Tom Scutt.
'It is a bit like an allotment garden sort of world, where lots of things are created,' continues Natalie. 'There’s no orchestra pit and so we have all of our musicians and singers in the same, shared space on stage; all of the ensemble are workers in the workshop - gardeners and preservers of the environment.'
The production is generously supported by The Taylor Family Foundation, Mrs Lily Safra, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund, The Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson Foundation and Britten-Pears Foundation.