MUSIC lovers heading to Southampton’s Odeon cinema on March 25 will see Salisbury’s very own opera star, Rosalind Plowright – but not quite as they know her.
Fans more used to watching her perform in Verdi’s great operas, will instead see her take a leading role in the comedic oratorio Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy).
The oratorio, billed as being “like Handel, only funnier”, was written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, long-term Monty Python associates and co-creators of the award-winning musical, Spamalot.
Inspired by Monty Python’s Life of Brian, it was filmed at its only European performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London last October, an event held to celebrate 40 years of Monty Python.
More than 90 digital cinemas in the UK and Ireland are screening the oratorio for one night only on March 25.
Mezzo soprano Rosalind, who has also performed in musical comedy and as a television actress, plays Mandy.
Eric Idle explains: “Not the Messiah tells the tragic tale of Mandy, impregnated by a Roman soldier, giving birth to Brian, a reluctant revolutionary who falls in love with Judith, gets mistaken for a messiah and is condemned to death.
“It ranges in reference from Handel, through a naughty Mozart duet, to the Festival of Nine Carols, Bob Dylan, and the classic finale Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
“It is rare you get to be silly on a mass scale.”
Not the Messiah features guest appearances from Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes.
Joining Eric Idle, who calls himself “baritonish”, are William Ferguson (Brian), Rosalind (Mandy), Christopher Purves (Reg) and Shannon Mercer (Judith), performing with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by John Du Prez – and three sheep.
Rosalind, awarded the OBE in 2007, has sung in most of the world’s major opera houses.
Borrowing words straight from Monty Python, she said: “It’s something completely different.
“My recent repertory has been wicked old mums, so this was a lot of fun – a laugh from beginning to end. It takes on board every style of music, from Handel to pop and rock, gospel to Welsh hymns – you cannot really describe it, it was unique. I have the line ‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’. How do you sing that?”
★ Rosalind has resumed her teaching career and is offering to help singers in Salisbury and the surrounding area improve their technique.
“I got a big response last time I did it and I would love to help singers who have the potential to develop,” she said.
“They may be in the first year of sixth form and planning to go to music college or someone wanting to sing the leading role in an amateur opera company.”
To contact Rosalind, e-mail ros-sing.co.uk.