As we enter the final week of touring for Opera for the Unknown Woman we’d like to share some of the brilliant and thought-provoking thinking and writing that people have been doing about the project.
You can read the excellent Maddy Costa’s blog post here. She talks eloquently about the challenges of Melanie’s work:
‘demanding work is seen as anathema to the accessibility, entertainment and instant gratification deemed necessary to attract and placate audiences. But I resist that, and so does she, committing herself instead to sculpting new forms for performance, and creating space for different stories about women.’
and she calls it:
‘a song for action… for global feminism to unify against the patriarchal structures that are relentlessly destroying life on earth. That destruction registers individually and socially, in poverty, military aggression, and xenophobia in all its fear-of-the-other guises; and it registers ecologically, in the depletion of resources and degradation of land and atmosphere.’
and speaks about hope:
‘There was a bit of me astonished by its blatant, unapologetic articulation of feminist and left-wing politics: where was the BBC-mandated counterbalance of climate-change scepticism? Where was the toning down for people who don’t want to feel preached at? She is invigoratingly forthright in this piece: environmental catastrophe is real and it’s here and we don’t have time to wait for someone else to deal with it. That sense of urgency can be a source of fear on the one hand, depression on the other, but there’s a wonderful line in the libretto that says (quoting roughly): saving humanity is the work of a generation. The hope in that line is heartening.’
The Stage called it ‘an innovative feminist sci-fi opera with sound and video design to match’ and their reviews editor Natasha Tripney chose it as part of her picks of the week this week.
Total Theatre talks about the brilliant ensemble: ‘Wilson’s culturally diverse ensemble, gifted with some extraordinary voices whose individuality is celebrated in some virtuosic arias, move about the stage like planets orbiting an invisible sun.’
The Cusp Magazine says ‘Melanie Wilson’s debut opera tackles with conviction issues which many opera directors would balk at. And in light of recent events, its central message of progressive change through non-violent ‘affinity and resistance’ is surely more needed than ever.’
Some audience responses:
‘Still thinking about Opera for the Unknown Woman. I feel at the moment I want all performance to be unapologetically big hearted and urgent.’
‘Recommend this with all my heart. Cried lots, not because it was sad; because it was strong.’
And finally Melanie Wilson writes passionately on The Guardian’s music blog about why she wanted to make the show and this week the newspaper’s theatre reviewer Lyn Gardner chose it as one of her ‘top tickets’.