Thyeste, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels
Wednesday 02 November 2005
Thyeste, La Monnaie's latest juicy operatic morsel, is based on a play by the Belgian writer Hugo Claus, who took it from Seneca. His libretto is set to music by the Dutch composer Jan Van Vlijmen, a Serialist of the Birtwistle generation, who died only last year.
Despite a tingling first tableau featuring what looks like a bloody headless corpse that materialises into a Fury (the formidable contralto Helena Rasker), the start of Gerardjan Rijnders' staging wasn't wholly gripping. Tantalus - sire of the Atreid family - hovers to remind us that the rot was there from the start. To avoid the inevitable choral black, Rien Bekkers comes up with florid designer gear seemingly inspired by Ikea's curtain department. The choir sings superbly, even if some moves are weak and the choral music ponderous.
But it picks up. Van Vlijmen restricts himself to smaller forces, allowing instrumental colours - solo strings, bass clarinet, cor anglais, oboe, bassoon, brass, percussion - to speak loud (or hushed) and clear.
Essential to the success of this increasingly rewarding performance were two Britons. Stefan Asbury, conducting his Asko Ensemble and the Cappella Amsterdam, nursed his players with meticulous attention to detail and balance, and emerged as a capable choral conductor, too.
John Daszak's Atrée (Atreus) is the bad guy, Agamemnon's father, who avenges his brother's cuckolding of himself by dishing up the grisly dinner. Only at the close do we fully grasp why: he senses his own offspring may be Thyeste's issue, and that his sibling knows. The final scene is, in effect, a long adagio: a scene of unalloyed horror that evolves into a virtual love duet between the brothers, Daszak's Atreus and the involving American baritone Dale Duesing (Thyeste). But one singer upstaged both: the Syrian Nabil Suliman, a wonderful clear bass whose Messenger scene earned him most applause.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 2 President Obama comments on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Jamie’s Sugar Rush, TV review: Defeated by school dinners, Oliver takes on a new enemy
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 200,000 back our campaign
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up