Underwater Opera Debuts on Blacktip Island

Hand-crafted costumes for “Nudibranch: The Operetta.”

Hand-crafted costumes for ‘Nudibranch: The Operetta.’

The Blacktip Island Community Players kick off their summer musical series Saturday with ‘Nudibranch: The Operatta,’ written by local divemasters and performed entirely underwater.

Plexiglas helmets will provide the airspace for actors to sing.

“We wanted something colorful and festive to celebrate summer,” musical director Doris Blenny said. “And what’s more festive than multicolored sea slugs?

“I’m continually astounded by the operatic and dramatic talent among dive staffs on this little island. We’re fast becoming the La Scala of the Caribbean.”

Original songs include:

  • Slime Trails in the Moonlight
  • Gastropod Gurls
  • Cerata, Cerata
  • Tough Enough For A Butt-Tuft
  • Sea Goddess in the Sand
  • I’m a Slight, Bright, Undersea Hermaphrodite
  • Three Nudibranchs on the Reef Are We

“The idea was to perform open-air,” Blenny said. “But then we thought, what better stage for sea slug-themed light opera than the reef itself?”

“Underwater is the proper setting,” co-writer and mezzo-soprano Catarina Porto said. “The water slows our movements and makes us more slug-like. The realism is uncanny.”

“It cuts down on drunks crashing the show, too,” said co-writer and contralto Alison Diesel. “That’s what ruined last year’s ‘Pirates of Penzance.’ I mean, it added realism and all, but it wasn’t right.”

“All the actors created their own costumes from locally-sourced materials,” costume master and tenor Payne Hanover said. “Some are coming up with colors and tuft configurations I honestly don’t think exist in nature. But that’s where art stops imitating life, I suppose, and we’re all about that.”

Limited kneeling will be available in the island’s underwater theater. Overflow seating and a live transmission will be available at the Sand Spit bar.

“The trick was finding a time when there was no hockey, basketball, baseball, rugby, soccer or cricket being broadcast,” Sand Spit bartender Corrie Anders said. “We tried to show the fall musical on a Saturday afternoon last year and a bunch of West Virginia University football fans about tore the place apart.”

Proceeds from the production will go to the Offenbach Scholarship for island divemasters bound for the Juilliard School.

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