Gaddafi: A Living Myth

With Libya in the news, perhaps it's time to revisit Gaddafi: A Living Myth, the 2006 opera that was billed as an "all singing, all dancing, free-spirited version of the Dictator's life."

Here's a catalog of contemporary reactions.

Speaking before the September premiere of his new commission, Gaddafi: A Living Myth, English National Opera artistic director John Berry averred that it could "redefine opera".

The piece, written by members of Asian Dub Foundation, was billed in advance as a venture of extraordinary audacity, addressing contemporary politics in music that would set our old friend the Classical Music Establishment by its ears.

Some of us had doubts long before the premiere. In December 2005, writing in this paper about the state of affairs at English National Opera, I said: "A commissioned opera from Asian Dub Foundation has had to be put off - and it's not hard to guess why."

When it was finally unveiled, there was not much pleasure to be had from seeing this gloomy prognostication confirmed.

The critics did their worst: "Cliche and bombast ... "repetitive and incoherent ... laughably wooden" ... "as cynical as Simon Cowell" ... "embarrassingly redolent of sixth-form earnestness" ... "long stretches of jaw-dropping banality" ... "risible moments that look and sound like a Middle Eastern version of Springtime For Hitler". Worst of all, almost every review used the word "brave".

Alas, I cannot find a video of the actual production. Here are two of the creators discussing it.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.