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Great Cast, imperfect opera
on 9 August 2013
First, the positives: It features two of my favourite singer/actresses: Miah Persson (so good in Cosi Fan Tutte) and Susan Bickley (brilliant as Juno in Semele). The singing and acting performances of all the singers, youngsters included, were excellent, and the stage setting was very imaginative. I would also add that the Blu-ray production values were exceptional too.
However: Although I wanted to like this, I have a reservation about the actual opera itself, and perhaps it stems partly from this particular production. I speak personally, of course, but I found it unsatisfying. I felt neither moved, nor involved somehow, and taking the drama out of its Victorian Ghost Story context and concentrating on a more psychological interpretation, lost something and didn't work for me. At the end, I just thought 'OK, but what are you trying to tell me - beyond the outward story of lost innocence?' No food for thought. No inciteful revelations. No lasting impact. Did I miss something?
Add to this Britten's near melody-free score and what are you left with? - No-one's going to leave the theatre singing the hit tunes. It seems to me that there are yards of text sung for no apparent reason. It could just have been a play. OK, technically I was impressed with the way the singers constantly handled difficult and seemingly impossible vocal intervals, and amazed at how they managed to memorise vast quantities of unmemorable music, but it doesn't add up to enough.
Maybe your reactions will be different from mine, but sadly it didn't really work for me.