Wednesday 21 March 2018

Atonement to get opera makeover

The film adaptation of Atonement starred Keira Knightley
The film adaptation of Atonement starred Keira Knightley

Ian McEwan's widely-acclaimed novel Atonement is to get the opera treatment.

The best-selling author and two friends are working on an adaptation which would bring the doomed love story, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the big screen version, to the stage.

McEwan, who scooped the Booker Prize for his novel Amsterdam, told The Times he agreed to the project "several weeks ago".

Poet Craig Raine will write the words and composer and radio presenter Michael Berkeley is set to write the music.

"It's not a chamber piece, that's for sure," McEwan told the newspaper. "You can do some very big dramatic things with this.

"If you were thinking of a large-scale opera then what springs to mind is 380,000 troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. That would be quite a choir."

Set in an England of class divisions and war, the 2001 novel Atonement was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

At its heart is the thwarted romance between aristocratic Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner, her clever but socially inferior friend from childhood. Cecilia's younger sister, consumed with jealousy, makes a mistake that shatters several lives.

Talks are ongoing which would make the endeavour a co-production involving Germany, England and the United States.

The opera could premiere in 2013. After that, McEwan and Berkeley were said to harbour a long-held ambition to pen a musical.

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