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Big Brother’s victim becomes an opera

Jade Goody was catapulted to fame in 2002 on the third Channel 4 series of Big Brother (owned and operated by the present chairman of Arts Council England). Nothing in her south London working-class upbringing prepared her for the trappings of celebrity and she was meat and drink for ravenous tabloid newspapers until her death, aged 27, of cancer in March 2009. Many, hacks, snappers and media owners made an obscene profit from her travails.

and the Crowd (wept)  is a new opera on the life and death of Jade Goody as reflected through mass media. In other words, it exploits the work of the exploiters and ought to be well worth seeing. Details have just been released, below. Here’s the site link.



jade goody

and the Crowd (wept)

A new opera: music by Erick Flores, text by Afsaneh Gray

Directed by Pia Furtado

Conducted by Adam Gatehouse

Cast: Cathy Bell, David Hansford, Norah King, Sarah Minns

“The crowd cheered,

The photographers snapped like crocodiles”

When Jade Goody died in 2009, her death was consumed like one more episode of the reality TV that created her. She was the symbol of the Big Brother generation, the first reality TV star to get widespread recognition. Part drawn from media accounts of her life and death, part modern-day fairy tale, and the Crowd (wept) explores the emptiness at the heart of the celebrity dream.

The production is directed by Pia Furtado (Opera Holland Park) and conducted by Adam Gatehouse (Editor Live Music, BBC Radio 3).

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  1. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Sounds intriguing. Let’s hope it’s good.

  2. If they’ve already resorted to typographical gimmicks in the title, I am not confident the authors have a lot of ideas to work with. But, open mind and everything…

    Also, frankly, lots of things (from TV shows to movies to, apparently, operas) try to capitalize on some recent scandal or media frenzy. I don’t think that necessarily means this piece “ought to be well worth seeing.” It could be exploitative nonsense just like its very subject matter. But, open mind and everything…

    • I Agree with Tomas2. They’re implying it’s in good taste because it’s an opera. Which isn’t necessarily true.

  3. That’s indeed a peculiar title. And “exploring emptiness”. Do we therefore expect to find… nothing? Well fingers crossed it will be a good show, definitely to be approached with an open mind.

    Comparisons to Turnage’s Anna Nicole might be interesting.

    And when is it? Where? I think someone needs to work on their press release writing skills!

    What would be quite cool, would be if this was itself an opera in the form of reality TV, with attention-seeking unknowns of questionable talent in the solo roles.

    • Also, the link in your article is broken. There is nothing there except “Page not found”. The theme of “exploring emptiness” taken too far, perhaps? ;-)

  4. Andrew S says:

    Just to clear up any confusion, this is part of Tête à Tête’s opera festival, which happens every year at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith.

    Jade Goody opera is on the 1st and 2nd August.

  5. Ghillie Forrest says:

    I’ll be interested to read reviews of this — it sounds as if the term “multi-media production” would be more appropriate than “opera.” Bit of a reach for Flores, but who knows.

    • Elizabeth Scott says:

      Hi, just wondering why you think it is a bit of a reach for Flores. Thanks.

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