Personalities | Mark-Anthony Turnage | Modern Era | Opera
b. 1960, English
One of the most important talents on the contemporary British opera scene, Turnage produces work that expertly captures the times and culture within which he lives. A jazz enthusiast who has served as Composer in Association with both the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera, he often attempts to combine numerous genres in his work.
Turnage’s first opera, Greek (1988), features 21 orchestra members all doubling on percussion while singers are required to sound distinctly non-operatic in their sometimes-vulgar vocal declamations. Accorded a single staged performance with the London Sinfonietta, the production caused an immediate stir among critics who interpreted its modern spin on the tragedy of Oedipus as a thinly veiled denigration of Thatcherist ideals. Turnage insisted that the parallels were more broad-based than that, relating to differing class cultures and the oppression that results, yet his reputation as a somewhat wayward operatic hotshot had seemingly been established. Other more recent works from this always-innovative composer include a 1997 opera adaption of the H. G. Wells short story The Country of the Blind, and an award-winning, critically acclaimed setting of Sean O’Casey’s anti-war play The Silver Tassie (2000), with a libretto by Amanda Holden.
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