Belfast Telegraph

Opera featuring Iris Robinson's 'gay abomination' comments to be staged in Belfast

The opera will explore Iris Robinson's comments that homosexuality is an
The opera will explore Iris Robinson's comments that homosexuality is an "abomination"
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

A new opera exploring former DUP MP Iris Robinson's controversial comments on homosexuality is set to be staged in Belfast.

'Abomination, A DUP Opera' will feature Mrs Robinson's comments in a 2008 BBC Radio Ulster Interview in which she condemned homosexuality as "an abomination".

The opera, by composer Conor Mitchell, is a co-production by the Belfast Ensemble and Outburst Arts and will open the 2019 Outburst Queer Arts Festival at the Lyric Theatre on November 8.

Organisers said it will feature a mixture of drag, cabaret and political satire to explore attitudes to LGBTQ people in Northern Ireland.

In addition to Mrs Robinson's controversial 2008 comments, it will also include both historical and recent statements from other DUP figures on subjects including gay rights, transexuality and marriage equality.

The opera will open just two weeks after October 21, the date Westminster has ruled that legislation legalising same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland should be introduced, if the Assembly is not restored by that time.

Composer and Belfast Ensemble director Conor Mitchell said the opera will follow in the tradition of the medium tackling controversial contemporary subjects.

"I think opera as a form is treading water right now and this work is my antidote to that. It’s a chance to bring that vital, relevant, dangerous edge back to what I feel opera has always been about," he said.

"It’s a challenge to the establishment in both operatic and social terms and bringing that sensibility and energy to a 21st century audience. That is what my work is always about."

The opera will feature a chamber orchestra and a quartet of singers, with a cast including Irish actor and drag queen Matthew Cavan and Canadian soprano Rebecca Caine.

Ruth McCarthy, artistic director of Outburst Arts, said: "Not only is Abomination stunning, cutting edge work in artistic terms, it’s also a vital examination of the violent impact that words have on all those who are treated as less-than in terms of human rights and “other” in terms of full social inclusion."

DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously branded claims her party's policy on gay rights is homophobic as "complete and utter nonsense".

In May, the DUP's first openly gay representative, Alison Bennington, was elected to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

'Abomination, A DUP Opera' will run from November 8 - 10 at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, with a preview performance on November 7.

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