Can opera be a vehicle for sex education? Spanish composer Toni Castells hopes so. He has written a production called ‘Oratori’, a Wikipedia inspired sex education opera that debuts in Islington on 15th November 2012.
‘Oratori’ (Life from Light) uses sex, safe sex and family planning as themes with one of the main arias in the opera including the lyrics from Wikipedia: ‘Human reproduction takes place as internal fertilisation by sexual intercourse. During this process the erect penis of the male is inserted into the female’s vagina until the male ejaculates semen which contains sperm, into the female’s vagina.’
Castells wants his work to be the democratisation of opera, taking it to masses. “Opera has always been a musical art form that has always taken risks,” he says. “From Alban Berg’s ‘Lulu’ (1038) about a lustful woman who sleeps with and murders endless lovers, to Thomas Ades’ ‘Powder Her Face’ (1995) about the life of the notorious adulteress the Duchess of Argyll, to the most recent Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ‘Anna Nicole’ (2011) on the life of Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, there have been attempts to take opera to modern times and audiences I see have already clearly ruffled some of the feathers within the very formal opera world, but opera has always been a genre of provocation and full emotion, an art form that should always take risks, evolve and create controversy.
“‘Life from Light’ is just that, but adapted to a more accessible format as it’s important for me that my work reaches everyone. We are already in discussion with West End theatres to take the production to the mainstream audience and we truly hope the themes will appeal to the working classes who have never taken opera truly to their hearts. If we can knock down any pre-conceived walls that exist within opera and the general public of the genre being in any way elitist and the domain of the upper classes, then we will be revolutionising the opera world as well as helping to educate when it comes to subjects like family planning and safe sex,’ he says.
An inspired idea and we’re looking forward to seeing it.
The Union Chapel, Islington, Thursday 15th November 2012, 7pm. Book tickets here.