King Priam, English Touring Opera, review
Linbury Theatre, London
Monday 17 February 2014
There is much to applaud about ETO’s production of Tippett’s King Priam at the Linbury, not least that it’s there at all: good that the Royal Opera House should open its doors to this enterprising company.
ETO’s director James Conway believes this rarely-performed work deserves a regular place in the repertoire, and he and his team have bust a gut to prove it.
Anna Fleischle’s simple but effective set, lit by Guy Hoare, looks properly archaic and serves as palace, army camp, and the walls of Troy; Conway’s direction takes its cue from the opera’s Brechtian combination of short scenes and lyrical interludes to reflect the ‘hard, tough, declamatory style’ Tippett was after.
Michael Rosewell conducts Iain Farrington’s reduced orchestration with brilliant attention to detail, letting the spare accompaniment to each aria – on cello, oboe, flutes, or guitar – eloquently do its job.
Roderick Earle, as Priam, leads an ensemble performance of rare conviction, with Grant Doyle’s Hector, Nicholas Sharratt’s Paris, Charne Rochford’s Achilles, and Adrian Dwyer’s Hermes all outstanding.
But non-hard-core Tippettians should be warned. The relentless, rebarbative angularity of the melodic lines can be purgatory for the ears; for all his strenuous craftsmanship, Tippett never attains even a whiff of beauty.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world