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Fever Pitch perfect for opera

After the book and the film comes the opera of Nick Hornby’s tribute to football fandom, Fever Pitch, which has it’s world premiere at Union Chapel

21 September, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor

Tenor Robin Bailey rehearsing the role of Gooner in Fever Pitch the Opera. PHOTO: Claudia Marinaro

THE ups and downs of an Arsenal football fan are getting full musical treatment in Fever Pitch the Opera at Union Chapel, Islington, on three evenings this weekend, opening this Friday evening (September 22).

The new piece is being staged by Highbury Opera Theatre. It is based on Nick Hornby’s iconic novel Fever Pitch, published 25 years ago. In it, Hornby relates stories of Arsenal matches and the club intertwined with tales about his own life as a writer.

Composer Scott Stroman and librettist Tamsin Collison have re-imagined the novel as a comedy/drama with musical styles ranging from classical and jazz to folk-rock and stadium terrace chants.

“This is an opera for people who think they don’t like opera,” says Stroman, the company’s musical director.
“Though much of it is closer to a ‘musical’ in style, the music never stops and, like all opera, it is driven by the emotions of its main character.

“Opera is about the turmoil of its characters – and football provides as much drama, turmoil and comedy as any subject.”

HOT’s production of Fever Pitch the Opera is being staged with professional singers and musicians supported by a large community chorus that includes dozens of children from local schools.

The role of Gooner, based on Hornby’s character in his novel, is being performed by award-winning tenor Robin Bailey. Taking on the role Gooner’s fellow fan Rat is super young tenor Nick Allen. Mezzo-soprano Joanna Harris is Girl featuring in Gooner’s life and baritone Robert Gildon is Gooner’s father.

Financial support for the opera has come from The Arsenal Foundation, Islington Council, Arts Council England, Nicholas Berwin Charitable Trust, PRS for Music and the Daley family in memory of Becky Daley.

• Fever Pitch the Opera is at Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, N1, 020 7226 1686. On Friday September 22, 7.30pm, Saturday September 23 3pm & 7.30pm, Saturday September 23, 3pm & 7.30pm, Sunday September 24, 7.30pm. Tickets: £15/cons £10, from


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