Unexpected Headline – Black Sabbath The Ballet Premieres In September

In a case of “not something I had imagined”, the Birmingham Royal Ballet recently decided to create a ballet set to the music of Black Sabbath, who got their start in the city. Lead guitarist Tony Iommi described the show as a “rags to riches” tale will attract “both our fans and ballet fans”.

Say what you want about whether a ballet set to heavy metal music is appropriate, my first thought was that from what I know of Birmingham the concept is suited to the history and socio-economic dynamics of the city and it is population. Obviously, these are the very forces that gave rise to the band in the first place. It may be an unorthodox pairing, but it is aligned to the community rather than an attempt at shoehorning something presumed to be good for the audiences or that they will learn to like.

I don’t doubt there will be cries of sacrilege. I am just suggesting Black Sabbath is more closely aligned to Birmingham than something like Aaron Copland & Agnes DeMille’s “Rodeo,” which has more resonance with American cowboy culture.

My thoughts about the continued timeliness of the song “War Pigs” preceded me reading Ballet director Carlos Acosta’s parallel thoughts on the song:

“”War Pigs is so relevant today, how sometimes politicians and governments hide behind words. And all the wars happening at the moment… it’s timeless.”

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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