Queen Boudicca Metal Opera At RISD

(10.29) To get an idea of the space the Celtic warrior queen Boudicca occupies in the British mind stop by the Houses of Parliament in London. That’s Boudicca in her chariot, a 19th-century bronze crafted by a man with the Hogwartsian name of Thomas Thornycroft. (See below.)

The 1st-century Boudiccan Rising against the occupying Romans is one of the most extraordinary episodes in British history, which is saying something. Following an unspeakably barbarous episode in which Boudicca was flogged and her daughters raped, Boudicca really took it to the Romans. Tens of thousands died, cities were burned to the ground. Despite the carnage, this is a story of great courage against unbeatable odds.

Historian Bettany Hughes calls her the ‘Mother of All Brits’ and gives a cracking account of these events in “The Roman Invasion of Britain,” with re-enactors, scholars, locations. (She is fantastic no matter who she’s talking about.)

This brings us to “Queen Boudicca: A Metal Opera,” one night only at the RISD Auditorium on Saturday night. Jake Bissaro of  Motif RI has some interesting background, and the local connection, over at Motif RI.

This ambitious project sprang from the mind of Bob Schlink, a native Rhode Islander and Associate Professor of Music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It’s a labor of love for Schlink, who spent six years developing it before he even heard a note of it.

“My son Rob is actually a bit of Celtic myth and history buff, and we were working on a Celtic-flavored metal project,” said Schlink. “It didn’t end up materializing, but soon after I saw a documentary about Queen Boudicca on the History channel. It really stuck in my mind, and I thought ‘I have to turn this into something.’”

Bissaro adds, “Schlink went as far as adapting ancient instruments, including the warrior’s lyre, the war carnyx and war horns.” You can sample some of the music here.

One Of Us — Boudicca is always depicted as having red hair. I don’t know if there is any actual evidence of that, but she does sort of embody the whole red-headed thang.  So, just saying, don’t piss me off.

G.A. $20 (students $15), 8pm to 11pm, Saturday, October 29, RISD Auditorium, 7 Canal Walk, Providence River Greenway, (directions)

boudicca statue

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