Saturday 22 June 2019

Philip Venables' new opera 'Denis & Katya' debuts in Philadelphia before travelling to Wales, England and France.

Cast members of Philip Venables 'Denis & Katya' Johnny Herford and Siena Licht Miller (photo: Dominic M. Mercier)
Cast members of Philip Venables Denis & Katya
Johnny Herford and Siena Licht Miller (photo: Dominic M. Mercier)
O19, Opera Philadelphia’s annual season-opening festival, launches on 18 September 2019 with the world premiere of Denis & Katya by composer Philip Venables and librettist-director Ted Huffman. The work is an immersive multimedia chamber opera, Venables describes it as 'pseudo-documentary music theatre'. 

It is a nominee for the Fedora Generali Prize for Opera [it has now been announced that Denis & Katya has won the 2019 Fedora Prize for Opera]

Venables recent work has included the award-winning Royal Opera House commission 4.48 Psychosis, also with a libretto by Huffmann [see my review], a production which also travelled to New York in January 2019.

Commissioned and produced in collaboration with Music Theatre Wales and Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier, Denis & Katya is based on the true story of two 15-year-old runaways who became social media sensations when they livestreamed an armed stand-off with Russian Special Forces that culminated in their own deaths. [the story is covered on the BBC News website]. The new opera interweaves verbatim text, original video footage, social media messaging, and stylized dramatization, breaking the fourth wall in order to examine the vast public response to their story and what this response says about us as a society.

Talking about the new opera, composer Philip Venables commented 'The making of this piece is another form of the kind of ‘watching’ and the kind of exhibitionism or voyeurism that the piece itself is talking about. The piece is going to be a really good mix of theatre and opera, a really good mix of drama and reality, of fact and fiction.'

Denis & Katya will be the UK in February/March 2020 performed by Music Theatre Wales, including the London performances at the Southbank Centre on 13 & 14 March 2019 [see Southbank Centre website], and the piece will make its French premiere in Montpellier.

Further details from Opera Philadelphia's website and from Philip Venables' website.

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