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Tiger King: English National Opera and TikTok stars turn hit Netflix show into ‘TikTopera’

Written by on 17 November 2021

Tiger King, TikTok and opera might sound like an unlikely combination – but it has now become a reality as the English National Opera (ENO) has joined stars of the video-sharing app to promote the upcoming return of the hit show.

Based on the Netflix documentary Tiger King, the five-act opera with a twist set to the music of Georges Bizet’s 1875 masterpiece Carmen has been brought to life by the ENO’s orchestra and 40-person chorus.

The series of 60-second videos on TikTok features Sophie Aurora, Hannah Lother, Hellovicco, X Factor finalists Max and Harvey, and Britain’s Got Talent’s Phil Green; each offering an operatic spin on the “Murder, Mayhem and Madness” of Tiger King season 1.

Behind the scenes shots of the English National Opera recording of Tiger King TikTok Opera. Image: The English National Opera and TikTok stars have produced a five-act musical medley based on Tiger King

Tiger King follows the bizarre story of zoo owner and big cat enthusiast Joe Exotic and his rivalry with Big Cat Rescue owner, Carole Baskin.

The seven-part documentary quickly gained success, becoming a fixture of many people’s lockdown experience.

The show also found viral fame with Baskin inspiring a TikTok dance.

ENO chief executive Stuart Murphy said: “TikTok is one of the few social media platforms that really has music and audio at the centre of it.

“TikTok felt like the perfect place to re-imagine epic stories for the social media age and bring opera to a new audience.

“Opera is an art form that deals best with epic themes – rival worlds, passionate love, carnal lusts and monstrous betrayal.”

He continued: “In many ways, it’s the art form that this story was made for.”

“It felt right to do this at the other end of the extreme, to make opera as accessible as possible to everyone.”

X Factor finalists-turned-TikTokers Max and Harvey boast an impressive 6.5 million followers on the app and shared how they were excited to be a part of “the first-ever TikTopera”, describing it as “amazing”.

TikTokers Max & Harvey took part in the TikTok Opera alongside the ENO. Image: TikTokers Max and Harvey said ‘hearing 40 people singing with a full orchestra is unreal’

“We’re huge fans of Tiger King and actually watched it twice over lockdown so working on a song about it was a really fun challenge,” they said.

“We’ve enjoyed learning more about opera and hearing 40 people singing with a full orchestra is unreal – we’d love to go and see one. Maybe even perform the TikTopera on stage!”

Carol Baskin in the second season of Tiger King. Pic: Netflix Image: Carole Baskin was featured in the first Tiger King series. Pic: Netflix

Murphy went on to say “we at the ENO create daring work in places people don’t expect”, adding “you never know where our next opera will appear”.

The full five minutes of the “TikTopera” can be viewed on Netflix’s YouTube page or through the individual TikTok creators’ pages.

Tiger King 2 is on Netflix from 17 November.