Abomination: A DUP Opera is set to receive its London premiere at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the Southbank Centre in May. This multi-disciplinary work received its world premiere at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in November 2019.
The opera’s basis is a scandalous live interview given in June 2008 by Iris Robinson on a BBC Radio Ulster programme fronted by presenter Stephen Nolan. At the time Robinson was a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP and married to the then first minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson.
During the interview she referred to homosexuality as an ‘abomination’. The interview has become part of Northern Irish queer history. It instantly reignited the equality debate in the country. Every word of the libretto is verbatim – Northern Irish composer Conor Mitchell weaves his music around real-life anti-gay comments made by Iris Robinson and others.
Robinson’s words are interlaced with a whole web of incendiary historical comments by DUP members on the subject of gay rights and marriage equality. Together, these words and Mitchell’s music create a contemporary, political, comic and emotionally complex political satire that combines opera with drag and cabaret.
Canadian soprano Rebecca Caine sings the role of Iris Robinson. Actor Tony Flynn takes the speaking role of Stephen Nolan. Northern Irish mezzo-soprano Sarah Richmond, Irish tenor John Porter, Northern Irish baritone Christopher Cull and performer Matthew Cavan – better known as drag queen Cherrie Ontop – star as a chorus of DUP members.
Abomination opens at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 5 May at 8pm, with further performances on 6 May at 8pm and 7 May at 6pm. It runs for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, with no interval. Tickets are on sale now, costing £12.50-£35.
Fusing opera with drag, cabaret and political satire, Conor Mitchell’s Abomination: A DUP Opera will receive its London premiere at the Southbank Centre in May.