"A grandiose spectacle" in Another Brick in the Wall: The OperaInterview
After its 2017 premiere in Montréal, Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera comes to Toronto for a much-anticipated run of shows, Nov. 13-23 at Meridian Hall.
The opera is inspired by the essential 1979 album, The Wall, featuring lyrics by Roger Waters and music by Canadian composer Julien Bilodeau. It tells the story of Pink, a rockstar singer, and his arc from fame to insanity. We spoke with baritone Nathan Keoughan, who sings Pink, about the grand-opera roots of Another Brick in the Wall.
What kind of person is Pink?
Pink is your quintessential jaded rocker whose fame and ego have grown into an unbearable burden, resulting in a mental break. The psychosis that follows is what plays out in the plot of the opera/film and is narrated by the album.
Why do you think this opera has seen such success since its premiere?
I think there are multiple reasons for the success of this show, one being the fact that it’s based on the album The Wall, which draws the huge original Roger Waters fan base. The show itself is a grandiose spectacle indicative of traditional opera productions, but more importantly the score written by Julien Bilodeau is incredibly rich, beautiful, impressive and clever. It is a wonderful vehicle for new opera audiences, but it will also please the not-so-new audiences.
What do you find operatic about the era-defining 1979 album The Wall?
The Wall album is operatic in more ways than one. The whole album is the narrative of a character, which I see as far more on the opera side of the spectrum than rock. The political and social commentary of the album is common in most types of art but especially rock and opera.
Are there any particular challenges for you with this project, considering its roots in mainstream popular culture?
I do find it challenging as a singer to know exactly what style I’m singing in. I try my best to stick to my operatic support and technique, but there are a few moments throughout the show where I abandon that quality of voice for something a bit more pure and exposed. I find it challenging, but also liberating in the sense that I’m not held to one standard or the other. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy singing this role so much.
What do you think fans of Roger Waters can expect from Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera?
I think if you’re truly a fan of Roger Waters, this opera will only deepen your appreciation of the original album and the film. I may be biased but I think the opera is more detailed in how the director has dealt with the plot and Pink’s journey throughout the piece. The opera was not created to replace the album, it was created to dive further into the beliefs and message of the original.