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L'Amour de loin

It was my first time encountering the music of Kaija Saariaho last night at the English National Opera's new production of L'Amour de loin. I went with a very open mind - this being a contemporary opera. I was pleasantly surprised by the production. The cast was strong - Roderick Williams as Jaufré Rudel,  Joan Rodgers as Clémence and Faith Sherman as the Pilgrim - delivered seemingly impossible vocal lines. The music was a sound world that was rich in texture, though some of the emotions escaped my attentive ears. With xylophones and glockenspiel galore in the pit, Edward Gardner kept a tight reign at the helm of a much enlarged orchestra.

Credit must go to Daniele Finzi Pasca for the circus / acrobatic "theatrical landscape" that made the whole production stunning. The lighting, the mime theatre, the dancers and acrobats all added a lot of magic and colours to a work that only had three soloists. The final scene with Jaufré and his alter egos suspended in mid air whilst the chorus held up mirrors to reflect narrow light beams across the auditorium was a fitting end to a dreamy and imaginative evening.


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