The news of a planned opera, based on the life of tragic reality TV star Jade Goody, has been met with mixed reactions. Whilst some welcome what is being called a celebration of the former Big Brother’s turbulent life, others are deeming the whole project as tacky.
The opera, or ‘contemporary style performance’, has been written by Afsaneh Gray, and uses Jade Goody as an example of a modern day ‘celebrity’. Called – ‘and the Crowd (wept)’, the opera charts the life of Jade Goody, from her first TV appearance in Big Brother in 2002, her various other TV ventures, then the fateful 2008 Celebrity Big Brother in which she was accused of being ‘racist’ to Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. She apologised and even went on to star in a version of India’s Big Brother, but had to leave the show early, after it was revealed on the show that she had cervical cancer. She later succumbed to this disease less than a year later.
Gray said that she was inspired to write the opera after she noticed the massive interest women showed in Jade Goody’s life. Love her or hate her, Jade Goody always provoked a passionate reaction, and it was this type of reaction that prompted Gray to pen an opera on the fickle nature of celebrity, using Jade as the focus.
Gray was keen to point out that the opera was not entirely about Jade. She said: “It’s important it’s not just about Jade Goody, it’s about celebrity.”
The opera has been three-and-a-half years in the making, and Gray has collaborated with composer Erick Flores, and the pair decided that the character of Jade should be played by three different people, who would all appear on stage at the same time, in an attempt to show the different sides of the star.
These Jades are played by Cathy Bell, Sarah Minns and Nora King, and the opera is directed by Pia Furtado, who told the Mail Online: “I think new opera is always interesting because you’re trying to find new voices and (doing) work that’s responding to something very current.” And speaking of Jade: “What a fascinating character whose life was played out in such an already-theatrical way.”
Jade achieved much fame through her appearance on Big Brother, and managed to carve out a career for herself, but public opinion changed and she was voted as one of the 100 Worst Britons, in a Channel 4 production.
The opera will chart the story of her life from three perspectives, from the first person and from various media archives, and explore the various public opinions as people reacted to her, whether in a positive or negative way.
Ms Furtado explains: “What’s interesting about this particular piece was not about her life but how it was consumed and how people reacted to it.”
Throughout the opera, a narrator will tell the story of how the young Jade always had fairytale dreams of stardom, but then talk about the tragic events that overtook her dreams.
However, early public opinion to news of the opera appears to be overwhelmingly negative, with comments remarking that people who like opera will not like the subject matter of this one, other people are labeling the opera as tacky and trying to make money from a dead woman, and many others still have a poor opinion of Jade and what she stood for.
For those interested, ‘and the Crowd (wept)’ will be performed over two nights, on August 1 and 2, at the Tete a Tete opera festival, at London’s Riverside Studios in West London.
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