Damon Albarn: ‘Opera is more ambitious than Blur or Gorillaz’

'Monkey: A Journey To The West' gearing up for 'unique' residency

Damon Albarn believes his opera ‘Monkey: A Journey To The West’‘s forthcoming London residency beats both Blur and Gorillaz in terms of ambition.

The show is set to be staged in a purpose-built arena in Meridian Gardens by the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, nightly between November 8 and December 5, with matinees on Thursdays and Sundays.

“It’s a fantasy story with strange characters, flying monkeys, carnivorous water spirits… it’s a magical other world,” Albarn told NME.COM. “It’s far more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done with Blur or Gorillaz.”

Having only ever squeezed into venues like Manchester’s Palace Theatre and the Royal Opera House in London before, Albarn explained that he felt the custom-made tent will allow for more acrobatics and a more realised show then has been possible before.

“Now in our tent it’s going to sound very fresh and modern,” he explained. “We wanted to make our own space so you didn’t feel anywhere else instead of our world… Monkey‘s world.”

Based on the ancient story of the Monkey King, which has been retold across generations, Albarn added he was confident that the story, although performed in Mandarin and accompanied with operatic surtitles, would resonate with wider audiences on its first ever extended run.

“The story of ‘Monkey’ has the epic qualities that ‘Lord Of The Rings’ has,” he suggested. “People can’t help but fall in love with main characters Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy and Tripitaka.”

To check the availability of ‘Monkey: Journey To The West’ tickets and get all the latest listings, go to NME.COM/GIGS now, or call 0871 230 1094.