The English National Opera (ENO) has partnered with film and TV streaming service Netflix to create what is being billed as the world’s first (and currently only) ‘TikTopera’. Tiger King 2: The TikTopera premiered on short-form video platform TikTok on 15 November.
Based on Netflix’s hugely popular documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, the five-minute opera tells the story of Oklahoma zoo owner Joe Exotic and his rivalry with animal rights activist Carole Baskin. Season two of the true-crime series launched on the entertainment streaming platform on 17 November.
The opera is split into five short acts featuring a single song, with each song covering a different aspect of the interconnected stories of the various characters featured in the documentary. The newly written English lyrics have been set to music from Bizet’s Carmen (1875). It includes three of TikTok’s biggest stars in the main roles: West End performer Hannah Lowther, fashion-blogger Sophia Aurora and rapper Hellovicco. They feature alongside X-Factor finalists Max and Harvey and Britain’s Got Talent comedian Phil Green.
The piece is co-produced by ENO, with music recorded live in London by the national company’s 40-strong chorus and award-winning orchestra. Following its TikTok premiere, Tiger King 2: The TikTopera is now available to watch for free on both Netflix’s and ENO’s YouTube channels.
The first season of Tiger King is among the most-watched series on the planet, ranking as one of Netflix’s most successful shows – partly due to its release at the start of worldwide lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The documentary’s twists, turns, reveals and revelations made it ideal for an operatic treatment, according to Stuart Murphy, CEO of ENO.
“Opera is an artform that deals best with epic themes: rival worlds, passionate love, carnal lusts and monstrous betrayal,” Murphy commented. “In many ways, it’s the artform that this story was made for. We are absolutely delighted to work with Netflix on Tiger King The Opera.
“Tiger King had us all glued to our devices in lockdown as everyone waited to be uncaged. It’s a modern-day mythic drama that was streamed straight into the living rooms of millions of us across the globe. The ENO was set up to do the same – epic stories, brilliantly told, to entertain as many people as possible.
“We’ve pulled out all the stops with Netflix to bring to life an epic reimaging of this timeless story for our social media age, and we hope people will love the results. As the curtain rises on the next stage of this enthralling tale, let’s take our seats, sit forward and enjoy the TikTopera as it spans the tragedy, the drama, the romance, the revelation at the heart of Tiger King’s incredible story.”
The project is the latest in a string of initiatives from ENO to make opera more accessible and to appeal to younger audiences, including free tickets for under-21s and a drive-in production of Puccini’s La bohème (The Bohemians, 1896) that featured a remix by Stormzy producer Mikey J.
Murphy added that the opera “spoke to our key value of trying to take opera out to everyone. We’ve got five hours of Wagner on the Coliseum stage, for the proper aficionados. It felt right to do this at the other end of the extreme, to make opera as accessible as possible to everyone. TikTok felt like the perfect place to re-imagine epic stories for the social media age and bring opera to a new audience.”
English National Opera has teamed up with Netflix to produce the world’s first TikTopera. Tiger King 2: The TikTopera premiered on TikTok on 15 November.