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Carmen Elektra: Bonesong/Frankenstein!! – Festival of Ideas 2010

Opera Education project

Targeting an older audience, we worked with the Cambridge undergraduate-founded new opera group Carmen Elektra on presenting two short operas in the unique environment of Cambridge University’s Museum of Zoology. A talented group of students led the production, including Thom Andrewes (director), Will Gardner (musical director), Kate Whitely and Joe Snape (composers), Conrad Steel (libretto) and Sarah McKee (poetry), while CaMEO co-ordinated the logistics of the event. The musuem was a packed house, with dozens more people pressed up against the exterior windows in the hope of getting a glimpse of the action. Bonesong was the brain-child of Whitley and Snape, now both pursuing careers in composition, and combined electronically-manipulated sounds made with the carcass of a cow with live orchestral playing. The second half was a performance of HK Gruber’s ‘pandemonium’ on the darker elements of childrens’ rhymes. The team later performed Bonesong along with another Whitley work as a Edinburgh Fringe show in 2011.

I thought it was brilliant. The music, of course, but the whole experience: at times, I found that the music was somehow making me see the animal-skeleton exhibits in a very primitive and beastly light: exciting! I was really taken aback by the fact that a new music event could be packed out like that, on a weekend night to boot, with such a young and enthusiastic audience. To see those tiers of people, all the way up to those on the outside, looking in, was amazing and heartening.”

- Audience member, via email.

The Museum of Zoology! If you’ve not visited it, you should: it’s full of skeletons, preserved Things and the stuffed corpses of animals. ‘What a great venue for a Halloween party,’ you might be thinking, and you’re right, but it’s an even better venue for a Halloween clubnight centring around a pair of murder- and madness-themed short operas. Operas!”

- The Tab *****

The Elektrolytes have created something huge, getting more students seeing and hearing opera.”

- Varsity ****

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