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Opera about suicide opens up conversations in Ealing

A modern opera that explores suicide and how a father came to terms with his own son killing himself made its London debut at St Mary’s Church in Ealing last week (15 July 2023).

Written by author Nigel Linacre as a way to come to terms with the 2021 suicide of his musician son George, The Grief Opera featured Acton-based opera singer Neil Latchman.

Mr Latchman and rock singer Keri Farish sang about Mr Linacre’s loss while engaging the audience in their own grief journeys.

Speaking of his opera, was composed by Vladimir Miller, Mr Linacre said: “Grief can be impossibly hard when we’re struggling we need all the help we can get. I hope the Grief Opera will help people move forward, and strengthen us for challenges to come”.

A mesmerised audience took the production to heart. One said it was “Brave and moving. A brilliant musical rendition of the six stages of grief and an incredible, unique experience”.

Ensemble performing The Grief Opera
Ensemble performing The Grief Opera

Another added: “The mood of the lyrics and the rhythm-style of the music worked so well together.  I didn’t expect the jazz inflections, these arrangements made it uplifting. I want to hear it again”.

On the eve of the production, EALING.NEWS spoke to Nigel Linacre to find out more about The Grief Opera.

Is this your first opera? Why choose opera and how long did it take you to write it?
Yes, first was writing about my son and his death, starting with a poem for his funeral. Trying to find a way to stay alive.
A month or two later, the words, “The Grief Opera” flashed into my mind, and I wondered if we could do it. Vladimir thought Grief is a universal problem and music may be the best way to approach it.
The first draft of the words took about three months, Vladimir’s music took another three months, and the editing process has continued. About a year and a half so far!

What do you hope residents in Ealing will get out from it?
A deeper appreciation of the power of grief and our ability to transcend it, and a more rounded love for life even in its darkest moments. My own grief journey has been extraordinarily tough, and yet it is possible to find a way through. I would love for us all to be able to meet with people who are struggling and find a way to lift them up, even a little.

Is it a very personal opera to you, how would you like to see the opera develop and gain awareness?
It is an intensely personal experience for me, because it is about my love for my son, but it may be intensely moving, and I hope ultimately, uplifting, for the audience too. The Grief Opera looks like it is a story of loss, and it is, but beyond the most awful loss can be found the most profound love. I’d love a Grief Opera to play a role in helping us get through the toughest times, and they will come, whether because of loss, or because we simply can’t see a way through.

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