Skip to main content

Lessons in Love and Violence, the Royal Opera

It's always special attending a world premiere. Nobody knew what the work sounded like. No "opinions". So there I was watching George Benjamin's Lessons in Love and Violence. This was a re-telling of Edward II's story drawing heavily on Christopher Marlowe's play about this monarch. From the first bar we entered into George Benjamin's immersive, intriguing and intimate sound world. Martin Crimp text was crisp and jagged, and beautifully set by Benjamin - loved the overlapping speech rhythm. Stéphane Degout delivered an intense and troubled King. Gyula Orendt's Gaverston and Peter Hoare's Mortimer were well matched.



As Benjamin himself conducted, I guessed that's how he wanted the work to sound. I'd need to see it again to hear everything properly (as I found watching Written On Skin second time round more rewarding). Then again, what do I know about 21st Century operas?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Otello, The Roya Opera

The buzz was huge just getting into the house, invaded by opera glitterati and pan-European fans of the one star we were here to see: Jonas Kaufmann. He didn't disappoint. Kaufmann gave a nuanced, thoughtful and emphatic performance. His portrayal of Otello was multi-faceted. The duet with Iago (Marco Vratogna) was gripping, so was the murder scene in the last act. Maria Agresta's Desdemona was excellent - particularly the willow song in the last act.



Keith Warner's direction was excellent in the last act - with all that contrasting emotions and dramas. But the first act somehow lacked direction - there were times when even Otello was milling about. Set designer Boris Kudlička's dark and moody motive went along with the drama, rather than contrasting against it. So after a while, I got bored looking at the set. Wish there were more colours.

Pappano took a brisk tempo throughout, at times risking the choral and orchestral ensemble, but the rewards was a full-blood…

From the House of the Dead, the Royal Opera

Janáček's From the House of the Dead was not going to be an "easy listening" piece. The drama was intense and claustrophobic - perhaps that's intentional. Unlike Káťa Kabanová or Jenůfa where there was a greater story arc, The House was more choppy - including two plays within the opera. All in all a very intense evening.



Poème symphonique, British Museum

Now how often does one get to hear Ligeti's "joke" Poème symphonique? It came about recently at the British Library. Or rather, it was performed in the old British Library reading room. 100 metronomes arranged neatly on a platform, lit, and poised to commence. After a short introduction, a small team of museum staff flicked the metronomes and the performance started. It was a cacophony of sound echoed by the reading room's unique acoustic. It's strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic. From time to time, some metronomes came together into unison, and then dissipated. It had an organic quality to it. If one ever wondered, it took about 25 minutes until the last remaining metronome on Largo came to a stop. It was fun!