ELMO (East London Metropolitan Opera) presented a very Hackney interpretation of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus from 1874 - one of the most joyous, entertaining, infectious operas in history. The R&D for this production is happened in January 2019 and was been supported by the Arts Council.
A stellar cast of professional opera singers and a Hackney rapper were joined by a chorus made up Hackney Empire Community Chorus, Hackney Youth Choir, a young string quartet and children from three local primary schools - as well as Prince Rapid, of course!
We love this piece not just because it contains some of the most irresistible tunes ever written for the stage, but also because it translates beautifully into contemporary Hackney. The masked ball scene traditionally includes lots of guest acts. This provided a perfect opportunity to introduce new and non-classical musical elements to the classic story of love, desire and trickery, and worked particularly well given the diversity of musical styles heard at the Hackney Empire.
Die Fledermaus (literally translated as The Bat) is a perfect opera to set in modern day Hackney. It is a very funny story full of misunderstandings, rich and poor characters and takes the audience through the full range of human emotions.
Hackney Empire has the perfect combination of glamour and informality for this production. It has the perfect acoustic for an operetta as substantial as Fledermaus as well as the facilities for non-classical performances. It offers the rare combination of being musically substantial at the same time as being sparklingly entertaining.
ELMO is interested in making opera for the people – we work with a range of musicians (for instance by combining opera with pop singers) and actively cast our performers from diverse community backgrounds. To ensure the production is as accessible as possible, Bat out of Hackney is going to be performed in English. Like the story it tells, this production is a large-scale, celebratory community event.
Strauss’ music is infections, tuneful and familiar to absolutely everyone whether they know it or not. It cries out to be danced to and its unashamed populism makes it immediate and entertaining. The roles are of varied difficulty, which has allowed us to cast both seasoned professionals, young students and amateurs in the sung and spoken roles and make an entirely natural transition into the contemporary sound-world of the ball.
To see the story of our R and D watch the video at the bottom of the home page. We hope to take this project forward at a future date...