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The next stagework by Mark-Anthony Turnage is an operatic version of Coraline, the dark fantasy tale by Neil Gaiman, due to be staged by The Royal Opera at the Barbican Theatre in 2018.

The Royal Opera has announced Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new stagework Coraline, an opera for family audiences due for premiere at the Barbican Theatre in March 2018. Adapting the much-loved classic fantasy tale by Neil Gaiman, the new opera is staged by Aletta Collins with Sian Edwards conducting the Britten Sinfonia. This co-production travels to Opéra de Lille, Victorian Opera in Melbourne and Theater Freiburg and is staged in London with generous philanthropic support from The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

The British writer Neil Gaiman has transformed the landscape of fantasy literature with his highly imaginative, atmospheric and otherworldly narratives. Coraline is classic Gaiman: it is packed with astonishing imagery, all wrapped up in an engrossing yarn. After its publication in 2002 Coraline swept up numerous awards, including Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novella. In 2009 it was adapted into a stop-motion film directed by Henry Selick – which also received widespread acclaim.

Mark-Anthony Turnage observes that "the fundamental message beneath the story is that we shouldn’t be afraid to do what we believe is right. Coraline is brave, not because she doesn't cry or get scared, but because despite these things she still tries her best and doesn't give up. That's why I wanted to write Coraline, because here’s a message well worth telling; through opera or in any other way."

Coraline is the second Turnage opera commissioned by The Royal Opera, following Anna Nicole staged by Richard Jones in 2011, telecast on BBC4 TV, revived at Covent Garden in 2014 and released on DVD by Opus Arte. Earlier Turnage operas include Greek, premiered at the Munich Biennale in 1988, and The Silver Tassie staged by English National Opera in 2000. Plans are underway for a further commission by The Royal Opera for a large-scale Turnage work for the main stage.

Recent Turnage works have included the Japanese-themed Hibiki, receiving its UK premiere at the BBC Proms on 14 August, and Martland Memorial given its first performance in April with percussion soloist Colin Currie, the Britten-Pears Orchestra and Marin Alsop. The 2017/18 includes the first performance of Turnage's new double violin concerto, Shadow Walker, for Vadim Repin, Daniel Hope and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra under Sascha Goetzel, touring in October to Essen, Ljubljana, Vienna and Zürich. A set of five Symphonic Movements will be premiered by the Oregon Symphony and Carlos Kalmar in October.

> Coraline at the ROH website

Photo: Philip Gatward

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