Skip to main content

Thebans at the ENO

Julian Anderson's first opera. A new commission from the ENO. Its music director at the helm. And an eagerly awaited production from Pierre Audi. There was much anticipation of this new opera in the musical world.



Roland Wood's portrayal of Oepidus was superb, and with much gravitas. Julia Sporsén as Antigone sang the part well and delivered drama throughout the three acts - and the powerful final note. Matthew Best was pretty good as the non-sexual Tiresias. The chorus deserved a prize for learning the difficult parts and delivered with much gusto.

Pierre Audi's production was powerful - especially in the first act when the dynamic movement of the different characters and the crowds really heightened the drama. Ed Gardner was superb in the pit - with clear directions (key to keep the choruses tidy) and enough breathing space for the drama to come through. The band was responsive and accurate (loved the contra-bassoon).

And how was the music? It felt right. At times it portrayed the drama / events, other times it faded into the background to support the vocal lines. It sounded new and fresh, yet not alien. Most important of all, it came across as a complete opera (as oppose to episodes of numbers or a glorified symphonic work).

All in all, it was an engrossing performance - one was drawn into the tragic-drama, the narrative, the textural music and superb stage direction. It's a bit like watching Strauss's Elektra - one feels exhausted at the end - in a good way.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Porgy and Bess, English National Opera

I quite forgot the first number in Porgy and Bess is Summertime! Beautifully sung by Nicole Cabell as Bess. On a whole, the chorus number was better sung than the solo numbers - where the diction was generally inadequate. The set (Michael Yeargan) was three-dimensional and worked really well with the many scenes in this work. John Wilson was in his elements in the pit and the orchestra responded with a rhythmic boisterous sound - the best part of the evening.

Les Huguenots, Opéra Bastille

I don't know why so few Meyerbeer operas are staged in London. In order to see his grandest grand opera, I traveled to Paris to see Les Huguenots staged at Opéra Bastille.



The star of the show was Lisette Oropesa who sang Marguerite de Valois - she got the warm yet regal tone for the role, her delivery of the emotions was fantastic. Yosep Kang, a late replacement for Bryan Hymel, was passable. His rendition of Raoul de Nangis could do with a few more rehearsals. And his voice strained a little at the higher register (there was one gasp in the audience when we all thought he was going to crack!) His love interest Valentine, sung by Ermonela Jaho, was good - a more youthful if pensive voice.

The male chorus was a little agricultural in act 1 - untidy and lacking in focus. Luckily, the men were saved by the women (again) when the ladies of the court sang lusciously while frolicking along a real stream.

Where was the BALLET???

The set design had modern lines and shades - a Parisien c…

Hagen Quartet, Wigmore Hall

Yes, the legendary Hagen Quartet playing at the Wigmore Hall.

The Schubert String Quartet in G minor sounded rough, with problematic intonation from the first violin. The whole piece sounded like a play through. Not a good start. The playing of the Webern pieces (Five Movements / Six Bagatelles) could not be more different. They got through the grittiness and bleakness of these concise pieces with precision and poise.

The second half of the concert was Haydn String Quartet in Bb (Op 55 N 3). The playing was warm, coherent with the kind of interplay between the quartet members that one would expect. Good tempi choice. This warmth was naturally conveyed through brilliant acoustic of the hall.