Olga Neuwirth’s radical re-interpretation of Alban Berg’s unfinished opera Lulu will have its UK premiere in a new production at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

American Lulu is an entirely fresh take on the piece, reinterpreting the original score and rooting the music in the jazz tradition. The libretto too is re-worked with an eye on the play which inspired the opera, allowing Neuwirth to draw new meaning from Lulu’s story.

In 1950s New Orleans, Lulu’s world is one of sex, seduction, temptation and manipulation. As the civil rights movement gathers pace around her, inside the smoky jazz bars of the Deep South Lulu’s rise to the highest levels of fame, money and power come at a price as she drives herself and her lovers to despair. Looking back on her life Lulu is forced to face up to a sordid history of jealousy, murder and suicide.

The Opera Group co-founder and the production’s Director John Fulljames said ‘The original Lulu was a woman oppressed, whose life was defined by the men around her. Olga Neuwirth’s update reinvents the opera from a woman’s perspective, making Lulu the author of her own tale. By setting the action against the backdrop of America’s civil rights struggle, Olga makes Lulu into a freedom fighter challenging both a gendered and a racist world. She reinterprets Berg’s score for a jazz-inspired ensemble, integrating her own distinctive voice to create a sound world that casts new light on Berg's opera.

General Director of Scottish Opera Alex Reedijk said ‘We had huge success at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012 co-producing three world premieres of new opera, so it’s a real thrill to be able to follow that up this year with a UK premiere in American Lulu. This is the perfect example of how partnerships across the opera community really work to bring new opera to more people. Audiences seeing American Lulu at Bregenzer Festspiele will be able to hear The Orchestra of Scottish Opera play Olga Neuwirth’s fascinating score, as they will be accompanying the opera there as well as in Edinburgh.

Teamed with our fantastic range of shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, including new opera Last One Out and returning favourites The Seven Deadly Sins, BabyO and SensoryO, it’s a great selection of work for festival audiences.’

Fresh from her acclaimed performances as Musetta in English National Opera’s La bohème, American soprano Angel Blue makes her Scottish Opera debut as Lulu, with renowned British jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth as her would-be lover Eleanor. Scottish baritone Donald Maxwell is Dr Bloom, with Robert Winslade Anderson and Jonathan Stoughton as Clarence and Jimmy. Paul Curievici, Simon Wilding and Paul Reeves complete the cast. Leading contemporary music specialist Gerry Cornelius will conduct The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Magda Willi designs, with Lighting Design from Guy Hoare, Video Design by Finn Ross and Sound Design from Carolyn Downing.

This is a co-production with The Opera Group, Bregenzer Festspiele and Young Vic in association with the London Sinfonietta, co-commissioned by The Opera Group and Komische Oper Berlin.


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