Catalani La Wally, Opera Holland Park

3.00

The aria - "Ebben? Ne andrò lontano" - famously adorning the films Diva and A Single Man is almost as ubiquitous as the eponymous heroine's name - which features in the Guinness Book of Records as being mentioned more times in Catalani's rarely performed opera than in any other.

Quite what the short-lived composer would have made of this bizarre notoriety is anyone's guess but to have at least one number to rival Puccini in popularity might have provided small consolation for always having remained in his shadow.

Catalani's La Wally is a strange piece about cruelty breeding cruelty until - wait for it - an avalanche brings redemption and purification for its star-crossed lovers. Now there's a challenge to concentrate the mind of any opera designer, leave alone one, Jamie Vartan, working within Opera Holland Park's limited resources. But it's amazing what you can do with a succession of ropes and pulleys and one humungous tarpaulin. With a little stretching of the audience's collective imagination and some stage-hand muscle you can create peaks and ravines and even, during Catalani's beautiful final act prelude, have the entire mountain range rear up before us.

So much for the sights but what of the sounds? That aria apart, much of La Wally's sporadic gorgeousness happens in the orchestra where the German influence (especially Humperdinck) is as much in evidence as the Italian. But La Wally really needs singing and Opera Holland Park's motley casting made for some strange imbalances and infelicities. Stephen Richardson's short-lived Stromminger was pretty indomitable in act one and director Martin Lloyd-Evans certainly didn't pull any punches with his brutality. Stephen Gadd made a fist of the obsessive Gellner but was short on style and charisma and Alinka Kozari was something and nothing as the androgynous Walter.

But Gwenneth-Ann Jeffers "vulture-maiden" and Adrian Dwyer's Hagenbach were physically and vocally a bewildering mismatch, he stridently over-parted, she an awkward stage presence with only glimmers of the vocal style that has stood her in good stead at OHP on previous occasions. Now and again a lovely phrase or just a single note would emerge and now and again it was exciting - but the quality was inconsistent and the longer line poorly sustained.

A nice touch, though, on Lloyd-Evans part, that we glimpse her "inner-self", the girl she longs to be - pretty, feminine, sylph-like - finally tumbling into eternity.



News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate