‘First new opera commission since lockdown’ to be performed live on stage

A new opera commission – said to be the first in Britain since lockdown – is to be performed live on stage.

A Feast In The Time Of Plague will be filmed and streamed for anyone to watch.

It will also be staged at the Theatre In The Woods in Surrey in September in front of an invited audience of 250 people.

Baritone Sir Simon Keenlyside in A Feast In The Time Of Plague (Richard Lewisohn/PA)

Wasfi Kani, founder and  chief executive of Grange Park Opera, said: “We’ve decided to take a leap to perform this live in front of an audience…

“We are taking the utmost precautions. The five levels of the Theatre In The Woods normally seat more than 700 people.

“It means that the 250 audience members will each have a volume of air of 31 cubic metres – considerably more than a half-full plane to Greece upon which 100 passengers have a mere 2.34 cubic metres.

“In my view it’s time we all got moving again, and I don’t mean flying to Greece.”

Organisers also say it will be the first opera in the UK to be performed inside a theatre and with an audience since lockdown.

The Theatre In The Woods (Grange Park Opera/PA)

Based on Alexander Pushkin’s 1830 play of the same title, Sir David Pountney developed his libretto during in lockdown in Wales, while composer Alex Woolf completed his score in six weeks.

The new opera features 12 characters and captures the “defiance and solidarity that we have all experienced during these strange times”, Sir David said.

“The virus exposes truths about all of us in surprising ways.

“A Feast In The Time Of Plague captures this – as well as the essential lesson that we must carry on laughing.”

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