Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Elephant Angel

The Elephant Angel is billed as a heart-warming new opera for audiences of all ages.  It was written by composer Gareth Williams and novelist Bernard MacLaverty.  It is based on a true story, and tells the tale of a lady zookeeper who takes a baby elephant home with her each night during the Belfast Blitz, looking after it and keeping it safe with the help of the children who live near by.

Despite my love of epic stories, loud music and fantastic costumes, I'm not an opera fan.  I generally can't hear the singers because the music is too loud and I hate not understanding the story.  So this opera suited me down to the ground.  It is for kids so it's less than an hour long, it's sung in English and best of all I already knew the story.

The story of the real Elephant Angel, North Belfast's Denise Austin is here for anyone who wants to read it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the performance.  The set was simple which meant that Sheila the elephant stood out.  She was put together beautifully and I thought the person playing her moved her limbs well.  The fiery lighting in the scene directly after the Air raid was gorgeous, and I loved the orange tinted glow of the children's faces.

Armagh composer, Gareth Williams' music is simple, well suited to the age group and with many lovely moments.  I particularly liked a scene in the school playground where the music was able to be at the forefront of the sound.  Strong characters, a sad story and a lovely setting meant that my 13th Belfast Festival event was not unlucky at all.

Looking forward to Festival event number 14 tomorrow - the Falling Song at The MAC Belfast.


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