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Where's singing in Gaddafi opera, UK critics ask

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

LONDON, Sep 9 (Reuters) A new opera about Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafiblasted opera buffs out of their seats at its world premiere, but music critics asked: Where was the singing? English National Opera (ENO), one of Britain's two main opera houses, won plaudits on Thursday night for trying to attract new audiences to an elitist art form.

But fans of conventional opera, rich in arias and romantic duets, faced a bewildering mix of musical styles in ''Gaddafi: A Living Myth'' and critics complained it contained little rap and no opera.

''Singing was conspicuous by its absence,'' said The Daily Telegraph.

''With a big chorus on stage and the WAsian strings sounds swirling, a scene would cry out for voices to be raised in unison.

All we tended to get was a bit of shouting.'' ''The old guard were cowering in their seats as the huge bass frequencies boomed out,'' critic Tom Horan wrote.

The Times said: ''It's not really an opera but could well become the Evita of this decade -- a slick, sardonic and cynical treatment of recent history''.

Using newsreel footage and graphics, the opera traces Libya's infamous moments on the world stage from the shooting of police officer Yvonne Fletcher outside Libya's London embassy in 1984 to the Lockerbie airliner bombing in 1988.

''It is not exactly opera but it makes the perfect PC (Politically Correct) musical,'' The Independent newspaper said.

But composer Steve Chandra Savale of the electro-rap band Asian Dub Foundation said the opera was definitely not intended as a piece of political propaganda.

''It is more about the myth of Gaddafi. It is about the invention of a cult personality and how it fits into the international framework,'' he told Reuters before opening night.

''It is about politics as ritual, politics as performance, politics as charisma. This is something that musical theatre can do.'' Actor Ramon Tikaram, who plays the colonel, said Gaddafi had to rank as the perfect candidate among world leaders to be the subject of an opera.

''I think he is a tremendous egotist who has grown up in the public eye,'' he told Reuters.

The opera ends with Gaddafi's 2004 desert meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, heralding the former pariah's rapprochement with the West after years of being pilloried as a international sponsor of terrorism.

But Tikaram was not sure about the sincerity of Gaddafi's conversion. ''He has got such great form for hoodwinking the world.

I am suspicious he may do this again.'' Reuters MS VV1051

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