Opera jug­gles things up

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

At first glance Ge­off Gil­son’s role in an up­com­ing opera couldn’t seem any more out of place.

He will per­form as part of a cir­cus troupe in the NBR New Zealand Opera’s The Bartered Bride which hits the stage next week.

As a free­lance dancer, chore­og­ra­pher and aerial artist, Mr Gil­son has ap­peared as a dancer in op­eras be­fore.

While his lat­est role seems out of the or­di­nary to on­look­ers he doesn’t see it as that un­usual.

‘‘We think of opera as high art but it is about what’s con­cep­tu­ally valid for the show and if it fits there’s no rea­son it shouldn’t be part of it.’’

The Bartered Bride is sung in English and will bring Bedrich Smetana’s 1860s comic opera into the 1970s.

Set against the back­drop of a rev­o­lu­tion, it tells the tale of a young woman in de­spair be­cause she is be­ing forced to marry a stut­ter­ing rich boy in­stead of her heart’s de­sire.

Half­way through, the per­for­mance fea­tures a high-tech cir­cus act.

‘‘We’re a real rag-tag bunch. This car­a­van opens up and we all kind of spill out. There’s a lot of jug­gling and ac­ro­bat­ics,’’ Mr Gil­son says.

The New­ton res­i­dent has spent many years work­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally with some of the most es­teemed chore­og­ra­phers. Last year he per­formed at the Oerol Fes­ti­val in the Nether­lands, the largest out­door the­atre per­for­mance in Europe. He also earned praise for chore­ograph­ing Bathing With Ele­phants, a show that was on at the Civic last year, and teaches a move­ment class at Unitec.

Cir­cus per­form­ing is some­thing he has be­come more in­volved with dur­ing the last year.

While cir­cus and opera do fit to­gether well, Mr Gil­son says mix­ing the gen­res does present some unique chal­lenges.

His favourite scene in the show is one where he and other mem­bers of the cir­cus troupe have to flip over a ta­ble and then break into a polka.

‘‘We have to grab peo­ple from the or­ches­tra and dance with them. You have to be on your game to get it right be­cause ev­ery­one, even peo­ple that aren’t dancers, get in­volved,’’ he says.

The Bartered Bride opens on Septem­ber 22 and runs for four nights at the ASB The­atre.

Ad­mis­sion starts from $49.50.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Some­thing dif­fer­ent: Ge­off Gil­son will put his tal­ent as a cir­cus per­former to use in the NBR New Zealand Opera’s The Bartered Bride which opens next week.

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