Move over, Power Point presentations and IPCC reports! Climate change has a new medium: the opera.
And who was the inspiration for this unexpected production? Al Gore! The former veep’s Nobel Prize-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth was a big influence for CO2, an environmental opera by director Giorgio Battistelli and writer Ian Burton. The performance debuted at the La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy, in May.
Throughout the performance, fictional climatologist David Adamson, played by actor Anthony Michaels-Moore, gives several lectures about hurricanes, global food production, and everyday environmentalism. Although his character is fictional, he touches on real events such as the Kyoto Protocol climate meetings and the aftermath of a tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004.
But here’s where the crazy dial gets turned way, way up.
In the midst of these scenes that discuss real, pressing issues like limiting emissions and dealing with pollution, the writers dump in a good dose of religion and mythology to carry the (admittedly a little boring) plot forward. The climatologist has a meet-cute with Adam and Eve. Sure, it’s to discuss the biodiversity of snakes in the Garden of Eden, but come on. Adamson (get it!?) later talks about “practical environmentalism” with the mythological Greek earth goddess, Gaia — and honestly, that sounds pretty hilarious.
While it’s certainly a, uh, strange take on climate change, the writers and directors are at least trying to bring some levity to an often gloomy subject.
CO2 just finished up its three-week stint at the Milan opera house, so green theatre-lovers are out of luck. Thankfully, we can all collectively embrace the weird in the opera’s whirlwind of a trailer, above.