Last March, Kelowna’s Antony Knight was quarantined like the rest of the world, but he wasn’t catching up on reruns of TV or baking banana bread.
He spent his time at home writing his first opera, Oh Alfred!, which will be performed this August as a part of the Vernon Proms festival.
Two years ago, the Vernon Proms classical music festival commissioned Knight to write an opera for their 2021 show. While the pandemic may have shut down other people’s creativity, Knight found inspiration in isolation.
“If quarantine didn’t happen, I may not have had a chance to write,” he said, chuckling. “I treated it like a full-time job.”
With the extra free time afforded to him by the pandemic, Knight wrote a two-act, two-hour opera with a full orchestra and many singers. However, when it became evident that COVID would be sticking around through 2021, he had to make some changes.
The new, condensed version of the show has a runtime of one hour and features just four performers and a piano across four scenes.
The show, loosely based around George Eliot’s The Lifted Veil, follows a boy sent to a boarding school by his family because of his ability to see awful visions of the future. After many years, his estranged family comes to see him, informing him of his brother’s engagement and inviting him to the wedding. He soon realizes that his family only wants him there to give the newlyweds a glowing view of their future together.
“We were trying to give the audience an homage to opera, but going a lot further and making fun of it,” said Knight. The overdramatized characters and complex plot paint a caricature of an opera but in a charming and hilarious way.
The opera will run on August 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Center. Tickets must be purchased in advance at tickets.ticketseller.ca, and admission cost is by donation.