SHARON OSBOURNE On BLACK SABBATH Ballet: 'This Is Just So Out There That It's Wonderful'
October 10, 2023
Sharon Osbourne has weighed in on "Black Sabbath – The Ballet", calling it "so out there that it's wonderful."
The ballet soundtracked by the music of BLACK SABBATH had its official premiere on September 23 at the Hippodrome theatre in the heavy metal legends' original hometown of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Commissioned by Birmingham Royal Ballet's director Carlos Acosta and Ballet Now, the ballet includes eight specially reorchestrated BLACK SABBATH songs plus new music inspired by the legendary British heavy metal outfit.
In a newly released video from Birmingham Royal Ballet, Ozzy Osbourne's wife and longtime manager says: "When I first heard that Birmingham Royal Ballet was putting on a ballet to BLACK SABBATH music, I just thought, this is so left field. It's so not expected. Who would have ever thought the combination? And I just thought, brilliant. This is just so out there that it's wonderful."
SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi, who had been present at some rehearsals, came up on stage at the end of the opening performance to play guitar on the band's classic song "Paranoid". Iommi also took a bow at the end of the night along with the cast and crew. Also in attendance at the event were Iommi's bandmate, SABBATH bassist Geezer Butler and Sharon Osbourne, along with LED ZEPPELIN singer Robert Plant and ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA's Bev Bevan, who served as the touring drummer for BLACK SABBATH from 1983 to 1984 and played percussion on "The Eternal Idol" album in 1987.
On September 24, Iommi took to his social media to share a photo of his appearance at the previous night's show, and he included the following message: "Thanks to everyone who supported us at the Ballet, we had a great premiere last night. I'm honoured to be involved with these talented dancers." He added: "I'm afraid I won't be joining every performance."
This past April, Iommi was asked by Birmingham World if he could ever have imagined that half a century after he formed SABBATH that Birmingham's ballet company would be dancing to their music. Tony laughed and said: "I wouldn't have believed them, really, to be honest. At the time when I got involved with BLACK SABBATH, I thought it was great, because it was something so different, and hasn't been done before. And I found it, I think, a good challenge.
"I'm looking at our music differently now with this [the ballet], because it is being interpreted in a different way. It's still got the basic things, but then it did have in the different orchestral things coming in. And then I never thought for a minute we would have people dancing to BLACK SABBATH and 'War Pigs' and 'Iron Man'. But here we are, you know."
Regarding Birmingham Royal Ballet's interpretation of SABBATH's music, Tony said: "Birmingham Royal Ballet are very conscious of the work being what it is — the SABBATH music. We don't want to change it so you can’t recognize it. So they've held that part of it, but added another dimension to it. So I was very happy with that."
As for whether he thinks the Black Sabbath Ballet could inspire heavy metal fans to become ballet fans, and ballet fans to become heavy metal fans, Iommi said: "I certainly hope so. I mean, it is a strange combination, but you've got to push the boat out. And, you know, hopefully, we can get everybody together. But they're opposite but they're not at the same time — because it's still creative. They're creating what they're doing. We're creating what we've done, and we're bringing them together. And I think it'd be really interesting to see the SABBATH fans and then to see the ballet fans liking it, hopefully."
Artistic director Carlos Acosta revealed five months ago that 60 percent of tickets at that point had been bought by SABBATH fans. He said that "BLACK SABBATH is so different from the world of ballet, and I wanted to multiply our reach. I hate to be predictable; I hate for the company to be taken for granted. Everyone knows 'Swan Lake' and 'Cinderella' … [It's] a great opportunity for us to show people the world of dance."
Austin, who supervised the music for the project, said: "Unlike THE BEATLES where you can buy two enormous volumes of all their scores with all the instrumental parts, there's not so much for BLACK SABBATH.
"When I was asked to take part in this project I thought, where do you start? The BLACK SABBATH catalog is enormous, it's so rich and so varied. So the process initially was starting to narrow down the amount of material that we wanted to work with that would furnish us with variety, with richness, with different emotional tones, but also help us create this evening-length show."
Austin added: "What I love about BLACK SABBATH music is the glorious irregularity. All the aspects of music — the flexibility of tempo and feel. And the extraordinary early period Ozzy vocals which are stratospheric, it's exceeding Pavarotti in term of the high notes and ringing power."
The songs chosen are:
* "Paranoid" ("Paranoid" album, 1970); * "Iron Man" ("Paranoid" album, 1970); * "War Pigs" ("Paranoid" album, 1970); * "Black Sabbath" ("Black Sabbath" album, 1970); * "Solitude" (Master Of Reality" album, 1971); * "Orchid" (Master Of Reality" album, 1971); * "Laguna Sunrise" ("Vol 4" album, 1972) and * "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" ("Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" album, 1973).
"Black Sabbath - The Ballet" ran through September 30.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's "Today" program, Acostasaid he had been a fan of SABBATH for more than two decades, and said he felt the band's classic protest song "War Pigs" still has particular resonance.
"'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," he said.
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