Skip to content
May 9, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Chloe Charody’s ‘Carnival’ (interview)

Published May 2011 by Beat magazine

Scenes from the London showing of Chloe Charody's 'Carnival'

Chloé Charody sounds like the kind of person who lives on a busy schedule, which might explain why talking to her is a little like watching a freight train go past – it’s bewildering, overwhelming and makes your grateful you’re not standing directly in its path.

Perhaps it’s a good thing to stand back and watch. After a great initial reception for her show Carnival in London, the circus-meets-opera performance is heading back to the West End for a five-year stint soon after the show’s Melbourne run finishes up. Cherody has reason to be excited, given the show’s reception – in its opening season in London, one reviewer described the show as “a showcase of genius, but it’s utterly nutty: think Tim Burton meets Bizet.”

With the delicate Mischa at the centre of the storyline, Carnival follows the progression of Mischa from her sheltered home within a carnival towards a better understanding of the outside world. Guided by her alter ego, Freckle, a violinist, Mischa is compelled to collect everything she knows about the real world and embark on a journey to true happiness. And while you can be swept away by the story itself, Charody insists her primary goal is entertainment. “It’s a very deep storyline, but my main focus is pure entertainment…You can just go and see it and be blown away by the visual spectacular.” The other characters Mischa encounters through her journey in Carnival are circus performers: “We’ve got contortionists, we’ve got aerial silk performers, we’ve got on the aerial hoops…it’s basically opera meets the circus,” she gushes.

Interesting idea, but what about reconciling old and new, opera and circus? Charody argues they are well-suited; “I composed this opera three years ago…it just came to me naturally…I love trying to write the best music I can and transporting my audience into my world…hopefully they leave the auditorium feeling like they’ve been to something really special.”

While Cherody was once the founder of the only classical music street press in Sydney, she couldn’t maintain her composing career and the street press at the same time. While Musique Art is gone, she’s found a way to merge her aims for the street press with her current role. “[Musique Art] was just trying to bring fine arts down from its pedestal and get it to the public in a much more youth-friendly manner…I just focus purely now on composing and producing music and bringing this sort of classical, opera music to a much younger demographic and making it a lot more youth-friendly. I think at the moment, a lot of traditional opera and traditional classical music concerts are so alienating to a youth demographic.”

Cherody sees pop music visual presentation as a good way to make opera more appealing to younger groups. ‘I think if you bring [classical music] down from its pedestal and give it the qualities pop music has, and theatrical and musical theatre have, where it’s just visually stunning and really engaging, I think that’s when you can strike a winning chord with this sort of music and bringing it to a younger demographic.’

But doesn’t that mean that the infusion of pop culture presentation might endanger the true beauty of opera? Cherody disagrees. “I’m talking about trying to bring classical music as a genre to a younger demographic. It’s not anything to do with pop music itself, it’s just trying to bring the youth in [and]… giving them an art form that’s enriching. I mean there’s brilliant pop music out there, but on the whole, everybody sort of follows like a sheep what’s number one and what’s fashionable and what they should like. And a lot of people will just follow what the trends are…If you look a really hard-core classical music, there’s just so much to offer in that music that young people especially are just not given the opportunity to enjoy and that’s because they’ve never really had an opportunity to see it in an environment that’s conducive towards [young people].”

There’s another reason why the show might appeal to a younger age group, and it’s not just for the music. Cherody is quite happy to admit Carnival showcases some beautiful female performers. “It’s just sort of the way these shows work, because they’re really feminine shows. I just love beauty on stage and all the musicians I have are the top musicians you could possibly imagine. They’re just the best, but they’re all very, very hot.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: