Thai Opera today and Saturday at the Bloomsbury Theatre Opera Siam (the rebranded incarnation of Bangkok Opera) present the Thai Ghost Opera Mae Naak composed by Somtow Sucharitkul OE.
This macabre story is set in a Siamese village replete with grand guignol effects and haunting melodies. The title role was created for, and will be performed in London by Nancy Yuen, most recently seen by British opera-goers in the title role in the Raymond Gubbay Madame Butterfly. This will be the first time one of Somtow’s operas has been seen in the UK although last year saw the world premiere of his chamber opera The Silent Prince in Houston, playing to a completely sold-out house. Mae Naak is his most popular opera, an exotic blend of post-romanticism and Thai folk music, with touches of dark satire and at least one ‘hit tune,’ the plaintive ‘Let me stay in the Twilight’. Previously staged in 2003 and 2005, this 2011 update will be redirected by Stefan Sanchez and conducted by the brilliant young conductor, Trisdee na Patalung. Mae Naak, Thailand’s scariest femme fatale, has been frightening children for a century or so and is one of the most widely disseminated folk-legends in the country, having been the subject of a good dozen films, television shows and novelisations.
The performances at the Bloomsbury are part of a larger UK tour, which also includes performances at the Southwark Cathedral, and two Opera Galas at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen.