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Paul McCartney's 'Liverpool Oratorio' to make world stage premiere at Cincinnati Opera

Mary McCartney
Courtesy Cincinnati Opera

The nation's second oldest opera company is looking to make history this summer. The Cincinnati Opera is set to debut the world stage premiere of Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio.

"This work is a semi-autobiographical love letter to Paul's fabled hometown of Liverpool — another beautiful city by the river, I might add," says Cincinnati Opera Artistic Director Evans Mirageas. "(It's) a beautiful story about our common struggles of growing up, accepting responsibility, building a life and finding hope in troubled times."

McCartney released the opera in 1991 with composer Carl Davis to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

"It quickly rose to the top of the classical charts, selling 17 million copies in its first five years and has been performed worldwide," Mirageas says. "But this summer will be the first time in history that it will receive the full theatrical treatment, featuring brand new sets, costumes, lighting, choreography and staging."

The album "even entered the mainstream U.S. Top 200, almost unheard of for a classical piece of work," according to McCartney's website.

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The Opera reports tickets are already selling well and a fifth show was included to meet expected demand. The show will run July 18-27, 2024 at Music Hall.

'Get Paul to Music Hall'

When the Cincinnati Opera contacted McCartney's publisher to inquire about staging the album, Mirageas adds, "he said 'Yes' almost before the email could hit the inbox."

The Opera and local arts, civic and tourism groups are hoping that excitement will result in McCartney coming to Cincinnati to view a performance. They've launched a campaign encouraging him to visit and are urging everyone to participate. It's called, "Come Together, Cincy! Get Paul to Music Hall!"

What's the story?

The opera consists of eight movements, each with a theme: War, School, Crypt, Father, Wedding, Work, Crises and Peace. It loosely tells the story of McCartney's life growing up in Liverpool.

The main character, "Shanty," is born in 1942 and raised to understand that "being born where you are born carries with it certain responsibilities." He falls in love and marries a woman named Mary Dee. They face hardships during their lives and careers, but carry on. She survives an almost deadly incident and gives birth to their child.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.