Roddy Bottum's Sasquatch opera is inspired by monsters, hillbillies and New York
- David Pollock
- 11 July 2017
The Faith No More keyboard player brings his debut opera, Sasquatch, to the Fringe
'What really speaks to me in stories is a monster, a character with really intense machismo who has a hidden sense of vulnerability and pathos.' Roddy Bottum is discussing Sasquatch: The Opera, his musical about a family's encounter with the mythical beast. 'I loved The Elephant Man when I was younger, and things like King Kong and Frankenstein always spoke really clearly to me.'
It's tempting to say that Faith No More's keyboard player is launching a radical departure by branching out into composing opera. But when he talks about equal measures of machismo and pathos, he's pretty much summed up the ingredients to classic rock songs. 'Opera is an interesting artform that's challenging and also really weird. In many ways, it sums up New York to me as a place of high art where people take a lot of care presenting a really odd piece of work. They take their weird here really seriously. The singing is top-notch and the talent spectrum of the people involved is mind-blowing. An opera takes a lot of patience, with the peaks and valleys of the drama being crazy intense.'
Bottum isn't inclined to pore over specifics, but he says the piece is a love story which takes inspiration from hillbilly culture and also celebrates the outsider. Ultimately, it's a reaction both to the current politics of his home country and his experience growing up as a gay man in the alpha male world of late 20th-century rock.
Although the first act was performed once in early 2016 in New York, a visit to last year's Fringe inspired him to debut the full show here, with five principal cast members, a chorus and live band. 'I know it sounds like a comedic idea for a show but it's not. It's dark and twisted, and it sounds cryptic and kinda gothic.'
Sasquatch: The Opera, Summerhall, 4–27 Aug (not 14), 9.15pm, £14–£15 (£12). Preview 2 Aug, £12 (£10).