The Casual Reporter: Wild West Indian Becomes Opera Phenomenon

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wild West Indian Becomes Opera Phenomenon

Ex-Wild West Show Indian Ferlyn Brass has become an unlikely darling of European Opera. For one, he doesn't sing - other than randomly belting out a few unnounced high-pitched wails characteristic of traditional Native American singing or a few phrases of whatever is on his iPod. Certainly for his role in Canadian director Robert Carsen's modernized version of Voltaire's satire Candide, featuring music by Leonard Bernstein, Ferlyn does not sing. He just "plays himself".

Ferlyn was handpicked by Carsen himself, who also adapted and directed Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris Resort where Ferlyn worked for several years. Ferlyn is not a formally trained actor (or formally trained anything as far as I know) but he's naturally talented and was entertaining to watch at the Wild West Show. No doubt Ferlyn's loud, brash presence and infectious smile both on and off stage contributed to his appeal to Carsen. Ferlyn claims his experience working with some of the world's top opera talent on a world-class operetta production has taught him more than any formal school could have, reshaping his view of acting.

Carsen's Candide was first produced at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris before spending a season at La Scala Theatre in Milan, Italy where it was temporarily cancelled subject to restaging a scene that featured "a drunk Silvio Berlusconi and other world leaders dancing in their underpants."

Based on Voltaire’s satirical masterpiece, Candide follows the journey of a young man who is determined to follow his tutor’s philosophy of absolute optimism – ‘all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds’. However, his beliefs are severely challenged when he leaves the sheltered environment of his home to embark on an epic journey across 1950s America... ENO

Candide will open June 23, 2008 at The Coliseum in Westminster, London - the official home of the English National Opera , with Bush and Blair in the controversial scene and Opera superstar Toby Spence in the title role. Ferlyn is consequently back in France to gather up his costume and make his way over to London for rehearsals and the performances. Book seats now!

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