Originally written for The Public Reviews
Last week I went to see the ENO doing Katya Kabanova at the Coliseum, a meaty piece of classical brilliance. The next day I went to see Hairspray, a bubble gum piece of theatrical whimsy. Katya was awe inspiring at points, and infinitely thought provoking, but for sheer balls out joy, nothing could beat Hairspray.
Whilst one is seen as a bastion of high art and the other, a guilty theatrical pleasure, opera and musicals have more in common than one may originally think. Both art forms (and yes a great musical can be ‘art’) use music to transport the viewer into a heightened emotional state of ecstasy. Deeply emotive, both do exactly what Aristotle championed, promoting a very healthy sense of catharsis.