“Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.” – Alan Rickman
“Time may change me. But I can’t change time.” – David Bowie
Whilst our blog may be created to spread the word of ‘The O Word’, I could not go without sending tribute to the two great stars we lost this week: David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Whilst neither were connected to opera directly, our world can learn so much from their contributions to the world of theatre, film and music.
Bowie’s performances were larger than life and almost Wagnerian in style. Ziggy Stardust and Thin White Duke are characters that you could easily see in the opera world, and I do hope to see them one day (Bowie Opera, anyone?). One of the most influential and popular musicians of the world of contemporary music, Bowie’s influence has seeped into all musical genres, leaving no genre untouched. Whilst I could go on to talk about Bowie’s involvement in Labyrinth, we all know how brilliant this musical was and I’d rather focus on Bowie’s lesser-known influences to the classical world. Admired by Philip Glass (Bowie’s ‘Low’ Album inspired by a symphony of the same name), admirer of John Adams, Bowie even provided his voice as narrator for the popular Profokiev composition, Peter and the Wolf.
From what I know of David Bowie, he lived in a world that was worthy of it’s own opera: Grand, magical, and constantly surprising. Therefore, the loss of this timeless star causes a ripple into all genres of music and touches us all. For what would be the world be like without our larger than life Bowie?
Less than hour after hearing about his death, I am sitting here on my computer desperately trying to find a link between Rickman and the operatic world. Yet, the most I can find is him attending a production of Rusalka and of course, his cello playing in Truly, Madly, Deeply. But just like Bowie, Rickman would easily slip into the opera world with his character creation and that deep, velvety bass voice. Rickman’s portrayal of Judge Turpin in Sondheim’s classic musical Sweeney Todd showed us a hidden singing talent. (Which, to be quite honest, wasn’t that surprising. It’s Alan Rickman. He can do anything.)
Rickman is one of those incredible actors that has touched the lives of all living generations. Whether you have watched Sense and Sensibility, Die Hard, Harry Potter, or Love Actually, Rickman appears to be one of the only actors I can think of who appeals to all ages and genders. To me, that makes him so important. In a world where actors seem to be very good at perfecting one movie genre, Rickman attempts them all. He was an incredible actor. Still is! There is so much the opera world can learn from his versatility, flexibility and connection to his characters.
They were both 69. They both suffered with cancer. They are both iconic stars in their own right. The influence that these two performers had on the theatrical world was immense and I know they will be sorely missed by many of their fans. In a world where people are comfortably living into their 80’s, they were taken too soon. But they leave behind a legacy of great music, fantastic films and proof of their incredible talent that will affect all genres, including opera, for a long time. Theatre was created to tell a story, and this week we have lost two of our finest story tellers.
RIP, you beautiful Story Tellers
David Bowie: 1947 – 2016
Alan Rickman: 1946 – 2016
Written by Katherine Goyder