The story of Oedipus is supposed to be timeless, for better or worse. In Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “Greek,” Sophocles’ tragedy plays out on the troubled streets of 1980s London, where the renamed Eddy tries to avoid fulfilling a fortune teller’s prediction but winds up in the arms of a curiously familiar cafe manager.
“We do have, still in the 21st century, moral and human lessons to be learned from the Greeks,” Mr. Melillo said. “That’s why these plays stood the test of time.”
But the piece’s contemporary relevance extends beyond the timelessness of the story. Its depiction of the East End of London emphasizes the problems of racism and economic erosion — issues that are also likely to speak to New Yorkers.
Next Wave has a history of hosting imaginative adaptations of classic plays. Lee Breuer’s “The Gospel at Colonus,” a musical take on Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus,” received its world premiere at the festival in 1983. More recently, Thomas Ostermeier, a leading German director, made his American directorial debut in 2004 with “A Doll’s House.”
After seeing “Greek” at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2017, Mr. Melillo invited the opera to make the trip over the Atlantic, continuing this tradition.
It will be Mr. Turnage’s second Next Wave production. In 2013 the festival hosted his “Anna Nicole,” an opera about the life and mythology surrounding Anna Nicole Smith.
“Greek,” Dec. 5-9 at the Howard Gilman Opera House
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