Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Pups of Heaneywulf

So. Reading between the lines of this report on the rock opera version of Beowulf (yes, I know it sounds like satire, but no, it is not), it looks like Seamus Heaney's attempt to transform Beowulf from a Viking into an Irishman -- complete with the Irish Repertory Theatre venue, Celtic harp, and a cast with names that look pulled at random from the Dublin telephone book.

Two gripes. When are people going to learn that the phrase "rock opera" insults both rock and opera? And also, when will Beowulf return to Scandinavia where he belongs?

If anyone needs me, I'll be drinking in the meadhall.


  1. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Yes, but will you be drinking Guiness in the Meadhall?

    Not disputing, just wondering: what do you do with Jesus Christ Superstar? Rock, or opera, or both? Please explain your answer. (20 points)

  2. I'm wondering what it is in the current zeitgeist that is lending itself so to Beowulf adaptations? There are two movies and this, now. Interesting...

  3. As for the movies, the zeitgeist is obvious -- LotR was one of the biggest gambles in film history (if it had bombed, New Line Cinema would have been no more), and paid off huge. Studio execs can probably remember the names of only two medieval texts from their college days, Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. Since Beowulf has three monsters in fight scenes that cry out for CGI, that's the text of choice.

    As for rock operas, they are a mystery to me (yes, including JCSS, Scott). Other mysteries: flavored water, the reading of John Grisham novels, and the continuing celebrity of Whoopi Goldberg. All are inexplicable without resorting to explanations involving demonic intervention.

  4. I'm a very bad modern American who considers himself media savvy for not realizing the LotR/Beowulf adaptation connection. I stand chastened and rebuked.

    BTW, I wouldn't really call Whoopi Goldberg a "celebrity" anymore. "Butt of many jokes," maybe, but not a true "Oh, I love her!" celebrity.

  5. Speaking of fantasy literature and film, I always wished Sword of the Valiant had done a better job of translating Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to film.