Scottish Opera to premiere new short film The Narcissistic Fish

Scottish Opera to premiere new short film The Narcissistic Fish

Soprano Charlie Drummond and baritone Arthur Bruce / credit: Julie Broadfoot

Composer in Residence Samuel Bordoli, poet and novelist Jenni Fagan and Scottish Opera's in-house filmmaker Antonia Bain collaborate on new project

As personality disorders go, narcissism is one that none of us probably has to look very far to find. Inflated sense of self-importance, needing constant admiration, lack of empathy – yes, we can all think of somebody with these traits. But what about a narcissistic fish?

The title of a new, somewhat unusual, short film from Scottish Opera, The Narcissistic Fish is a collaboration between composer Samuel Bordoli, filmmaker Antonia Bain and Scottish writer Jenni Fagan. Although the film is being released during lockdown, its concept dates from two years ago when Bordoli and Bain first had the idea of creating a narrative set in a commercial kitchen.

'Two brothers own a loft restaurant on the Shore in Edinburgh, called The Narcissistic Fish', explains Fagan. 'Most of the ideas for the restaurant were conceived by Belle, who has worked with them on it since the start, without having been given the credit, or true financial renumeration for her role in creating such a successful business.'

Underpinning the story are its key themes of gender inequality, narcissism and, says Fagan, 'the nuances of interpersonal relationships in the workplace.' The dynamic between the two brothers is one of tension, and the younger one just can't take the behaviour of the other anymore. 'This night in the restaurant is landed an additional intensity because their father is about to die and they are fighting about it,' says Fagan.

Having worked in bars and restaurants, Fagan's credentials are more than being a skilled songwriter. Expanding her experience further, she says, 'I always research anything I work on, so looked at lots of articles on hipster kitchens and established restaurants, considering the kind of menu they would have, what the décor would be. I tried to design it as if I were constructing an actual place.' The film features three of Scottish Opera's current Emerging Artists – soprano Charlie Drummond and baritones Arthur Bruce and Mark Nathan. They sing over a digitally created score that incorporates real sounds from a kitchen as percussion.

For Fagan, Scots was the natural language for the texts. 'I like writing in Scots, I speak it and I didn't feel like writing a libretto in English. I also wanted my characters to be working-class young Scottish people, driven and with the quick-fire energy that Scots brings.'

The Narcissistic Fish premieres Thu 18 Jun, 7pm at scottishopera.org.uk.

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