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Monday, November 26, 2018

In Context: Greek

From composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and director Joe Hill-Gibbons, Greek is an in-your-face operatic retelling of the Oedipus tale set in 1980s London. Coursing with sharp and scathing political commentary, Greek maintains its shock value, social relevancy, and cultural weight 30 years after the original premiere. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Program Notes

Greek (PDF)


Opera Director Joe Hill-Gibbins: How I Got an Oedipus Complex (The Guardian)
Joe Hill-Gibbins shares his initial hesitancies regarding the infamous Oedipus tale and how his perspective shifted throughout the process of directing the opera.

Jenny Ogilvie on Becoming the Movement Director for “Greek” (The Herald)
“You are there to make the physical life of the show as vivid and committed and daring and imaginative as it can be.” — Jenny Ogilvie, Greek’s Movement Director, on how her work as an actress informed her transition from being on the stage to behind it.

The country’s in a state of plague”: Greek and the Tragedy of Thatcherite Individualism (BAM Blog)
Writer and performance artist Chris Tyler unpacks how Margaret Thatcher’s political agenda, which created an environment of social peril in the UK in the 1980s, informs the bleakness of Greek.

London Voices, “Greek” style (Eidolon)
Emily Pillinger, a Classics lecturer at Kings College London, recounts her childhood experience with Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek and discusses how the work still resonates today.

Dreadful Knowledge (BAM Blog)
In preparation for Mark Anthony-Turnage's contemporary update of the classic Oedipus tale, see illustrator Nathan Gelgud's primer for the infamous story. In this post for the BAMblog, he breaks down pivotal themes and moments for audiences both familiar and new to this thought-provoking tale.

Watch & Listen

Alex Otterburn on Greek: BAM 2018 Next Wave Festival (YouTube)
“Greek was written at a time of political strife and more so than ever we’re back to those times.” — Alex Otterburn, who plays Eddy or Oedipus in Greek, connects the opera’s apocalyptic 1980s London setting to our current politically and socially unstable world.

What is Greek?: BAM 2018 Next Wave Festival (YouTube)
Soprano Susan Bollock and Mezzo-Soprano Allison Cook detail the demands and joys of performing in such a bold, brash reimagining of a classic tale.

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

© 2018 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.


  1. Greek was of some interest, but ultimately a flawed piece that comes across as superficial. It was most interesting, to me, with the knowledge that Turnage and Thomas' unique talents, seen here in a fetal stage of development, would later produce Anna Nicole, perhaps the funniest, and one of the most entertaining operas ever.

  2. Terrible should not be advertised or performed at the BAM. ir gives a bad name to the New Wave Festival and puts in question BAM future projects

  3. brilliant music, orchestrations, production, but I almost got up and left on the line about the "darkie slave". It destroyed my ability to enjoy the rest of the opera. I'm still upset by it and wondering what lack of moral fiber kept me from leaving.

    1. Amen to that. hen I heard that line I gasped, and wondered why the whole audience wasn't outraged. Yet another reason I hated this "opera".

  4. I was so disappointed I would have walked out, but thought my guest was enjoying the opera. I had loved the same team's Anna Nicole opera a couple of years ago and had high hopes. But this was excruciating. Don't GO!!! The musicians and 4 performers did their level best, but the concept an monotonous music had me nodding out. By the end I was applauding to signal YAY -- it's over! I am a huge BAMster, but this should never have happened. DO NOT GO (half the seats were empty, BTW.)

  5. I was taken by Alex Otterburn's Eddy's movements, the way he walked and moved like a dancer.

  6. The majority of the seats were occupied on the first night. Turnage is a genius, and would not describe any of his music as superficial. This was one of his earliest pieces, and while not up to the level of The Silver Tassie or Anna Nicole, and especially his orchestral and chamber works, very much worth hearing, and I applaud BAM for staging it. Please bring Coroline to New York.

  7. I am surprised at the negativity of many of the comments here. I saw the Saturday evening performance. It was riveting - brilliantly acted, sung, and directed/designed! The music perfectly captured Steve Berkhoff's abrasive, sardonic, protest against contemporary (?) society. Yes, it is often very uncomfortable to watch and listen to, but you have to take it on its own terms. I hope the person above who would have left except that their friend was enjoying it asked their companion what they found so compelling! That is the discourse that pieces like this should and want to provoke.

  8. I loved Greek. A dismayingly plausible modern retelling of the Oedipus story, with a modern London plague (egged on by Trump),and an entirely believable young man who likes pubs, then wine bars, and then a pub fight, and ends up unwittingly marrying his mother. I particularly liked Alison Cook, who plays his wife and mother. The play, with only four actors, makes great use of the Greek chorus and we read what's happening partly through their reactions. Cook was fantastic, very present and engaging in all her roles, remarkably in the chorus. Denis Pelli

  9. I thought the play was brilliant, as was the acting. Thank you, BAM, for having the guts to show daring art, that examines the complexities of the human condition and is relevant to our times.

  10. I thought Greek worked very well as theater but not as tragedy. Anna Nicole, which I also saw at BAM, was much more eloquent, much deeper about the human condition.


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