Musical theatre spectacular Burt Turrido: An Opera – topflight international visit promises to be the event of the season
Nature Theatre of Oklahoma is Pavol Liška and Kelly Copper’s multi-award-winning arts and performance company, founded in New York in the early noughts. The company’s irreverent works combine opera, dance, and theatre. Known for their idiosyncratic and off-kilter humour, the company has won international acclaim for their unconventional interpretations of classic plays.
Nature Theatre of Oklahoma last visited Tapiola in 2018 with Pursuit of Happiness. This time around, Espoo City Theatre welcomes the company back as a co-producer of their latest work. Burt Turrido: An Opera premiered in August 2021 at the Noorderzon Festival in the Netherlands.
In Burt Turrido, the company tackles opera for the first time. Although ‘opera’ is a misnomer – what we have here is a musical theatre spectacular, the mother of all non-operas, whose kind has never been seen or heard in Finland. A sparkling wild west extravaganza drawing from the familiar clichés of opera. Quite ingeniously, traditional structures of opera are dismantled into their constituent parts. The company then pick up the pieces, and create a passionate, humorous, and courageous all-singing, endlessly dazzling show that leaves no one cold.
Burt Turrido is a darkly humorous tale about an insular society. A beautiful and mysterious woman rescues a drowning, shipwrecked man. Is she a ghost or a mermaid? The rescued man washes up on the last remaining strip of land.
The work explores operatic forms and conventions. A catastrophic storm, parthenogenesis, murder, love triangle, a staged execution, birth, an alien attack, and kidnapping all feature. The show goes on until someone is impaled, by a narwhal.