By Lina Kurdi
A theatre company which showcased deaf and disabled talent is putting on its first chamber opera today and tomorrow at the Southbank Centre.
Graeae theatre company, which is based in Kingsland Road, Hoxton, announced the world premiere of composer Errollyn Wallen’s The Paradis Files.
The opera includes a star-studded cast with Guildhall School of Music and Drama alumni Maureen Brathwaite playing the lead role of Maria-Theresia, Baroness von Paradis, and Omar Ebrahim playing the role of Baron von Paradis.
The Paradis Files is set in the salons of 18th century Vienna and centres on the star, Baroness von Paradis.
Although blind, she is a pianist, composer, touring musician and a pupil of Salieri and friend (and alleged lover) of Mozart.
Baroness von Paradis has captivated Europe with her talent and earned the name the blind enchantress, but there is a dark side to this success story, some of the people close to the baroness are looking to profit from her blindness, while others are on a mission to cure her, whatever it takes.
In this opera, the baroness is moved out of the shadows into the spotlight to reclaim her place in music history.
Graeae artistic director Jenny Sealey said: “I am beyond excited to be starting rehearsals.
“Finally, we will have this glorious company of deaf, disabled, neurodivergent and non-disabled singers, actors, and creatives all in one room.”
Musical director Andrea Brown said: “Opera has the ability to touch us all and I wanted to be a part of that.
“New opera is hugely exciting. There are no limits or barriers in this realm – and to work with a composer in its creation is exhilarating.”
Paradis Files, is commissioned by The Stables for IF: Milton Keynes International Festival and produced in partnership with Curve Theatre in Leicester, UK and BBC Concert Orchestra.
The London premiere of Paradis Files is at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, on April 13 and 14.
All performances will integrate British Sign Language ( BSL), captioning and audio
Description. The performance interpreters are Chandu Gopalakrishnan and Max Marchewicz.
For more information visit the Southbank Centre website:
Pictured top: Graeae’s The Paradis Files. Andrea Brown, Maureen Brathwaite and Max Marchewicz Picture: Henri T