These days, if you mention The Wall, people may think you’re talking about Donald Trump’s proposed barrier separating the United States from Mexico. If you travel northward into Canada, though, The Wall means something else entirely – Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall is being turned into an opera. Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera is a collaboration between Opéra de Montréal and the band’s former bassist and songwriter Roger Waters. It will premiere at the Quebec opera house on 11 March and is one of a series of events meant to help celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary.
While the opportunity to transform your rock opera into an actual opera sounds hard to pass up, that’s exactly what Waters did when he was approached by the composer Julien Bilodeau and Pierre Dufour, who at the time was the executive director of the Opéra de Montréal. “I wrote them a very polite, but very firm email back saying that my experience had been that most collaborations between popular music in general, but rock’n’roll in particular, and the symphonic orchestral form were unmitigated disasters and I thought it was a terrible idea,” said Waters.
“I got this fantastic letter back from Pierre Dufour. It was so eloquent in defense of their idea and I agreed that I would meet with them.” Dufour, Bilodeau, and the director Dominic Champagne came to New York to meet Waters, armed with preliminary set designs and operatic transformations of Pink Floyd’s hits Comfortably Numb and Another Brick in The Wall, Part 2. Waters was impressed. “We started talking and five hours later we were still talking,” he said. “After that meeting I said, ‘You know what? All right, you’ve convinced me. Let’s do it.’”
Waters joined the team, serving as librettist for the new piece, with music written by Bilodeau. The conductor Alain Trudel and Champagne will guide the Orchestre Métropolitain and Étienne Dupuis, who plays the character inspired by the rock star Pink Floyd, the fictional protagonist of the original rock opera reportedly inspired by both Waters and Pink Floyd’s original leader, Syd Barrett.
Montreal is a fitting place for the opera’s debut, as the origin story behind Pink Floyd’s The Wall started at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in 1977, when Waters spat in the face of a fan who attempted to storm the stage. It was a move that ended the Pink Floyd concert and shocked the fan, and Waters. “It was a life-changing moment for me only insofar as my response to it made me think of how alienated I had become,” said Waters. “Suddenly a lightbulb went on and this showman in me went, ‘What about doing a rock show and building a wall between the band and the audience, as a physical expression of alienation that caused me to spit on that bloke?’”
Fans of Pink Floyd will soon get a special opportunity to hear one of the band’s most famous live performances like never before, as part of a special exhibition on the band at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
The museum has partnered with Sennheiser to present a 360-degree recording of Comfortably Numb from Pink Floyd’s famed Live 8 performance in 2005, the last time that the band’s classic lineup — guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, keyboardist Richard Wright and bassist Roger Waters — ever shared a stage together.
The demonstration of the latest 3D audio technology seems particularly well-suited to the famed classic rock outfit, who helped pioneer the use of surround sound in the music industry decades ago.
“We have been using Sennheiser equipment ever since Pink Floyd started out as a live band,” said Mason of the collaboration, “It is only fitting that they provide the audio experience at our exhibition.”
To achieve the feeling of being at the concert in person, the team from Sennheiser will employ 25 speakers and its Ambeo 3D technology, which places sound both around and above the listener for a fully immersive audio experience.
This isn’t the first time that fans of Floyd have been able to hear this technology applied to their music. The company premiered the mix to an exclusive audience at Abbey Road Studios, where the band recorded iconic records like Dark Side of the Moon, earlier this month.
Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson worked closely with the audio wizards at Sennheiser and producers like Simon Roads (Spectre, Avatar) at Abbey Road to make sure the mix was up to snuff.
The exhibition called Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, will open at the museum on May 13.
You’ll believe a pig can fly! MOJO celebrates 50 years of Pink Floyd as a recording band and 40 years since Animals, their angriest album, was unleashed. Get hold of the strictly limited Lenticular Edition and watch Pink Floyd’s iconic pig, “Algie”, fly across the cover!
The package contains a lovingly curated CD of progressive sounds, including mind-expanding tracks by Hawkwind, Foxygen, Public Service Broadcasting, Gong, The Phoenix Foundation, Dungen, Jane Weaver and more. Inside the magazine, the Floyd’s Roger Waters gives an exclusive interview about the Animals album and MOJO is afforded an exclusive preview of the V&A’s extraordinary Pink Floyd exhibition.
MOJO 282’s Lenticular Edition is limited to 5000 copies and is only available to buy online. So order now to avoid disappointment. Our “regular” edition, featuring the free CD and identical content is in UK stores from Tuesday, March 21.
Identity is the only album by Zee, a short-lived side project of Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright, a duo partnership consisting of Wright and Dave Harris of New Romantic outfit Fashion, released in 1984. The album was written and produced by Wright and Harris and all the lyrics were penned by Harris.
Dave Harris recently posted on social media that he is “Looking towards remixing and re recording certain tracks from the Zee album with Richard Wright, with a view to a digital release of the original album as it stands and a separate album of re worked songs from ‘Identity’, using Ricks recorded work from 1984.This will involve certain old friends of mine, with whom I have played and conversed with over the years. I cant say anything else at this stage, only to promise that the new tracks will shine with Ricks posthumous involvement.”
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has announced the first major international retrospective of Pink Floyd. The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Moral Remains experience will be a spectacular and unparalleled audio-visual journey through Pink Floyd’s unique and extraordinary worlds; chronicling the music, design, and staging of the band, from their debut in the 1960s through the present day.
The Official Pink Floyd Store is proud to offer the first three items available in conjunction with this exhibit – a 2-sided t-shirt, double-sided hoodie and a tote bag – all emblazoned with the Their Mortal Remains logo.