For some time now I have been fascinated by the phenomenon of football and the place it holds in our society. Living near Arsenal stadium I often hear the distant roar of massed voices - thousands of people singing their hearts out with fervour and commitment.
When I was asked to write an OperaShot, I wondered whether Ingerland could be an opportunity to play with the world of football chants, and explore ideas around the drama of the game – ritual, worship, tribalism, as well as heightened emotions – ecstasy, exuberance, fanatical vitriol.
In creating the piece, I wanted to play with non-verbal chants and onomatopoeia, mixing it with reportage of particular football matches. Through workshops earlier this year, we have experimented with many ideas, and developed narrative ideas which started to emerge from some of the real-life stories that we shared among our musically and dramatically diverse cast.
I had no idea how deep the emotions run for some, and the degree of importance football holds in their lives. I watched this sudden transformation: enraged faces, swearing, roaring. I had mixed feelings about it – on the one hand I find it strange that people get so worked up, but it did seem also to be an incredibly cathartic experience.
In rehearsals we have brought together a narrative which will bring together the more abstract, atmospheric material, going from impressionistic bursts of raw emotions to more conventional songs relating to particular characters – like a father and son trying to bond through the medium of football, and a group of WAGS agonising about their appearance.
Preview the score