Live satellite screenings, whereby you go to the cinema to see an opera, are becoming very popular. On 29 and 30 June, however, the London Coliseum is giving you the chance to do the opposite by going to the opera house to watch a film!
But River of Fundament, which will be enjoying its UK premiere, isn’t just any film. It is the creation of American artist Matthew Barney who is perhaps best known for his Cremaster Cycle of films, described as ‘one of the most imaginative and brilliant achievements in the history of avant-garde cinema’.
This contemporary opera, in which Barney has collaborated with Berlin-based American composer Jonathan Bepler, radically reinvents Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings, an epic story of regeneration and rebirth. It combines documentary footage of three live acts performed in outdoor environments in Los Angeles, Detroit and New York, with live-action cinema that recreates Mailer’s wake.
Featuring appearances from Ellen Burstyn, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Paul Giamatti, John Buffalo Mailer and Elaine Stritch, if anyone needed proof that not all operas are about crusty, ageing men attempting to stand in the way of two young lovers this is surely it.
The screening of River of Fundament is one event in a weekend examining Barney’s work, and on 28 June the Whitechapel Gallery will be showing all five films in The Cremaster Cycle, followed by a live interview with the artist.
River of Fundament is at the London Coliseum, Saint Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross on Sunday 29 June (15.00) and Monday 30 June (17.00). For tickets (£15-£25) visit the English National Opera website.
For further details of the showing of The Cremaster Cycle on Saturday 28 June, visit the Whitechapel Gallery website.