Monty Python's Terry Jones sinks his teeth into canine opera

Published Friday, 08 April 2011
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The Doctor's Tale debuts alongside Stewart Copeland's setting of Edgar Allan Poe tale in Royal Opera House double bill

What do you get if you cross a dog with a doctor and a Python with a former Police man? Two operas, of course. Monty Python's Terry Jones and ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland took dramatic departures from their previous careers to produce an operatic double bill that opened in Londonon Friday night.

Copeland has set Edgar Allan Poe's Gothic horror story The Tell-Tale Heart to music – although sadly the immortal song De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da is not included. Jones, moving into opera for the first time, has remained true to his more surreal sensibilities. He has provided the libretto for The Doctor's Tale, a story about a successful doctor who is struck from the register simply for being a dog.

Anne Dudley, who won an Oscar for her score for The Full Monty, has provided the music to accompany Jones's creative vision. The new creations were commissioned by ROH2, the Royal Opera House's contemporary arm, opening in its Linbury Studio theatre.

Copeland is no stranger to opera. His debut opera Holy Blood and Crescent Moon – which, he claimed, tried to recreate the scale and power of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde – was first performed 22 years ago.

But Jones admitted to being unfamiliar with the form before writing the libretto. "I hadn't seen much," he told Reuters. "I saw Rossini's Cinderella ... and I was sitting there thinking the average pantomime has more psychological truth in it than this stuff. I mean the sets were wonderful, the music was great but the actual content was just nil."

If further proof were needed that although Monty Python's parrot is well and truly dead, the creativity of its writers remains in robust health, fellow Python Terry Gilliam is directing a production of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, which opens on 6 May at the London Coliseum. © Guardian News and Media 2011
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