“Greek” Opera Based on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex at BAM

The Scottish Opera presented Greek at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, in 2017. Susan Bullock, Allison Cook and Andrew Shore perform alongside name-to-watch Alex Otterburn, winner of an International Opera Award bursary and one of Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists for 2017/18. Photo: by Jane Hobson, Courtesy of Scottish Opera

BROOKLYN – Mark-Anthony Turnage’s groundbreaking and profane 1988 two-act opera, Greek, is now a cult classic in the modern chamber opera repertoire. Composed and set in Britain’s Thatcher era, and based on the in-your-face stage play by Steven Berkoff, Greek’s bleak humor and exploration of social and political unrest continue to resonate today. Scottish Opera/Opera Ventures’ acclaimed new production was presented in its New York premiere on December 5, and the engagement which runs through December 9 also marks the New York premiere of the opera as part of the BAM 2018 Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn.

Greek is a retelling of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex, set in cockney-accented north London. An aimless young man, Eddy, longs for a better life away from his family. His father tells him of a fortune teller’s prophecy years earlier that Eddy would sleep with his mother and murder his father. Eddy storms off, disgusted, brawling his way across a turbulent city rife with strikes, gas rationing, violence, and plague. Following a row with police, Eddy escapes into a café, where he argues with the café manager and kills him. The distraught café manager’s wife falls in love with Eddy and they make a life together. She tells him of her young son who was lost in the Thames River years ago. Years later, Eddy’s parents find him and finally tell him how they rescued him from the river. Horrified, Eddy realizes the fortune teller’s prophecy has come true.

Greek is presented by Scottish Opera/Opera Ventures with libretto by Steven Berkoff from his play Greek, adapted by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Jonathan Moore, composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, conducted by Stuart Stratford, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins with associate director Daisy Evans, set design by Johannes Schűtz, costume design by Alex Lowde, lighting design by Matthew Richardson, video design by Dick Straker, movement by Jenny Ogilvie, dramaturgy by Caroline Steinbeis, and soloists from The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

In English with English titles, Greek is co-produced by Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera, at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave in Brooklyn, December 5, 6 and 8, 7:30 PM; December 9 at 3 PM. Tickets start at $35.

More information is available by phone: 718-636-4100 and online: bam.org.