Ballet and heavy metal may not be an obvious pairing, but that’s the mash-up fans will be getting when Black Sabbath – The Ballet opens later this year.
The brainchild of Birmingham Royal Ballet director Carlos Acosta and the band’s Tony Iommi, the ballet will premiere in Birmingham in September.
It will feature eight Black Sabbath tracks plus new music inspired by them.
Iommi told Radio 4’s Today he hopes the “rags to riches” tale will attract “both our fans and ballet fans”.
Acosta told the programme he had been a big fan of the band since a friend introduced him to their music around the year 2000.
Following a week’s run at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 23 to the 30 September 2023, the full-length three-act ballet will then tour to Plymouth’s Theatre Royal and Sadler’s Wells in London.
In a press release announcing the production, guitarist Iommi said: “I’d never imagined pairing Black Sabbath with ballet but it’s got a nice ring to it!”
He added: “I’m looking forward to seeing how this all develops. Black Sabbath have always been innovators and never been predictable, and it doesn’t come any more unpredictable than this! I’ve met with Carlos several times and his enthusiasm is infectious.”
The eight Black Sabbath tracks from the show include Paranoid, War Pigs, Orchid and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and the music will be re-orchestrated for the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
The idea of a Black Sabbath ballet has been on Acosta’s mind since he first arrived in Birmingham at the start of 2020, just before the pandemic hit.
Acosta said: “Black Sabbath is probably Birmingham’s biggest export, the most famous – and infamous – cultural entity to ever emerge from the city – so I was naturally drawn to the idea of a collaboration between what most people might think are the most unlikely of partners.
“The band’s enthusiasm for the project is a huge endorsement. They are putting their trust in us to deliver something completely new and original, and that’s quite a responsibility but one that we are beyond excited to take on.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former ballet star said he had been a fan of the band for more than two decades, and said he felt their song War Pigs still has particular resonance.
“War Pigs is so relevant today, how sometimes politicians and governments hide behind words. And all the wars happening at the moment… it’s timeless.”
The band performed at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August
The Cuban-born dancer added that it was “incredible” to meet Iommi, who he described as “a gentle soul”.
“We both come from poor working class backgrounds. The band came out of this hardship. They represented so many people.”
Iommi told Today’s Nicola Stanbridge the storyline will be a “rags to riches” tale and while he “can appreciate” ballet as an art form, he has never actually been to a ballet. Yet.
“I went down to see the rehearsal and they were dancing around me, it was fascinating.
“I think it’s really adventurous to do this. It’s hoping to attract both our fans and ballet fans.”
The news comes a week after Black Sabbath’s frontman Ozzy Osbourne announced he was retiring from performing.
Osbourne told fans he was still struggling to recover from a spine injury he sustained in 2019.