This information was updated on 18th June, 2017 Ellen Kent has announced a new spectacular interpretation of Verdi’s classic opera Aida with international soloists, chorus and full orchestra. Aida will star French Soprano Olga Perrier as Aida and Liza Kadeinik, the celebrated mezzo from the Romanian National Opera as Amneris. Aida, the grandest of all Ellen Kent’s operas, returns in Autumn 2016 to the UK … Read more
This information was updated on 18th June, 2017 Opera and Ballet International will present a UK tour of Ellen Kent’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme. La Boheme will feature international soloists, chorus and a full orchestra in this new staging of this popular opera. La Boheme is one of the most romantic operas ever written. It tells the tragic tale of the doomed, consumptive Mimi … Read more
And so to the culmination of the contemporary opera section of the Grimeborn Festival, a double-bill in the form of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Medium and The Wanton Sublime, a new work by Tarik O’Regan, to a libretto by Anna Rabinowitz. Robert Shaw directed both operas and the Orpheus Sinfonia conducted by Andrew Griffiths accompanied the second half. The house was sold-out in anticipation of an evening of musicianship of high quality – an expectation that was by-and-large fulfilled.
Not everything in Grimeborn can work and while the commitment of all concerned deserves recognition, this adaptation cannot be considered wholly successful. As a better test of its worth though, I do hope further performances can be arranged with a full ensemble of strings, woodwind and brass. If all the main lines are present, the core of this delicate work can still generate the right kind of silvery shimmer.
After Monty Python and Blackadder it is not really possible to present this type of opera in full cross-gartered fustian without an ironic angle; so much better in many ways, therefore, to take it out of time and re-present it in another period altogether, or in contemporary dress – as here – where in effect it becomes The Merry Chavs of Windsor. The result is one of the best vindications of the Grimeborn ethos in the current season and a wonderful refutation of the Coward quote at the head of this review.
The evening as a whole provided a superbly invigorating beginning to the Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola. We were given new insights into an old work that made it seem much less forbidding and more accessible than usual; and in the second half the joyous, madcap side to the life of the clown and the circus was given full rein in a new one. Tradition and its subversion, the two governing tenets of Grimeborn, were in in this instance in perfect balance.
So in sum, the production did achieve exactly what Grimeborn sets out to do each year. It knocked old layers of varnish off an old favourite and found a new and convincingly thought-through scenario in which to relocate it. Director Lewis Reynolds has a lot of experience in presenting opera at the King’s Head Theatre, which made him a very good choice to achieve fine results here. This was a truly committed, full-on team effort: and in this opera nothing else will deliver the goods.