Opera: The hit and myth approach
STRAUSS/MOZART BARBICAN LONDON
Thursday 29 April 1999
This was a concert performance, but had enough dramatisation to hold the eye as well as the ear. Hickox stuck strictly to Strauss's prescribed 37-piece orchestra, and having the players in full view instead of in the pit allowed air and light into the music. Moments of thin string-playing were more than compensated for by sheer verve, and for once we could hear just how much the harmonium contributes: a lot.
Hickox had a cast to grace any opera house, and most of the singers did without a score. Christine Brewer's Ariadne was radiantly secure, rising in full glory to the big moments, yet capable of the utmost delicacy. I've not heard her sing better. If the demands that Strauss makes of Zerbinetta in the familiar Ariadne are exorbitant, in this version they are practically illegal. Cyndia Sieden pinched a few notes, but got more of them than we have any right to expect, and her pert characterisation contrasted neatly with Brewer's more stately disposition. This Ariadne left me feeling that there might be a real opera here, rather than the silly parlour game it usually resembles.
Ten days earlier, Hickox gave the UK premiere of Strauss's 1931 edition of Mozart's Idomeneo, a real rarity, and no doubt destined to remain so. Strauss's efforts were misguided, but what he offered was a glimpse of Mozart through a thin but richly decorated veil, moments of nearly pure Mozart imperceptibly metamorphosing into nearly pure Strauss, and vice versa. Performed with passion, as here, Strauss's Idomeneo succeeds on its own terms. With another stellar cast, led by Kurt Streit as Idomeneo, Strauss in Mozart drag proved to be rather impressive. Shall we ever hear it again?
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 New Apple TV release date and price: streaming box and games console will launch in October
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Wes Craven dead: Why Johnny Depp owes his career to director’s 13-year-old daughter
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
James Bond is a 'very lonely, sexist misogynist', says Daniel Craig
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms