Okanagan Beauty and Beast opera offers plot twist of consent - InfoNews

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Okanagan Beauty and Beast opera offers plot twist of consent

Allison Cociani, background, is bringing her operatic interpretation of Beauty and the Beast to Lake Country
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Allison Cociani
June 29, 2019 - 1:00 PM

LAKE COUNTRY - Allison Cociani hasn't sung on an Okanagan stage since 2012. The Lake Country-native will finally get a chance to flex her pipes in front of a home crowd next week, but it won't be easy.

Cociani is bringing Beauty's Beast to the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country on July 4. She composed the music for this opera, which is an interpretation of the classic fairytale. The piece has three singing roles, Belle, the Beast and the Enchantress. Cociani typically sings the Enchantress parts, but the singer who usually plays Belle won't be able to make it to the Lake Country show, meaning Cociani will be pulling double duty by performing both female roles. She plans to drink a lot of water to keep her throat healthy.

"It's very tricky," she said. "You really have to practice."

Cociani runs East Van Opera in Vancouver, which focuses on creating new music and elevating women in the arts. She said her friend Anna Shill, the librettist for the show, approached her last summer about turning Beauty and Beast into an opera. Cociani agreed and set out composing the music for Shill's words. She said she had to retreat into her own world to craft the tunes.

"I like to become one with my idea," she said. "Composing takes all of your creative energy."

While the classic Beauty and the Beast tale can sometimes be interpreted as a case of Stockholm Syndrome, Cociani said their version twists the story to centre on the importance of healthy relationships, empowerment and consent.

"It's something people can relate to," she said.

Cociani has performed the show once before in Vancouver ahead of the Lake Country date. She said they're taking the show around B.C. this summer to learn from crowds and make possible changes before their main production in Vancouver on Sept. 6 and 7.

Cociani is excited to bring her opera back home and share it with friends and family. She encourages everyone to check out the show, even if they're not fans of opera.

"A lot of the time people are afraid of new opera," she said. "People shouldn't be afraid."

The July 4 show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29 and can be bought here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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