Quartett, Royal Opera House's Linbury Theatre, review: 'A shameful waste of money and talent'
Thursday 19 June 2014
The staging for Luca Francesconi’s Quartett, with a platform bisecting the auditorium beneath a forest of torn gauze, was intriguing.
The composer-librettist had nailed his colours to the mast: taking Heiner Muller’s two-hander based on Les liaisons dangereuses, he would get the protagonists to perform ‘polyphonically’, playing not only each other but also their victims.
And as the lights went up on a woman en deshabillee at one end of the platform, beguiling recorded sounds came as though blown on the wind, and were gracefully taken up by the London Sinfonietta under Andrew Gourlay’s direction: this composer clearly liked perfumed instrumental effects.
But did he like voices? When the woman (Kirstin Chavez) began to sing, it was in painful atonal gasps, which were answered in jagged, jerky phrases by a man in dirty underclothes (Leigh Melrose) who had surfaced opposite her. From then on, things just got worse.
The surtitles – for those few in the audience able to see them – were wall-to-wall pseudery, and the characterisation was crude beyond belief, with the singers made to bawl at each other about frustration, impotence, and putrefaction – and sometimes mount each other - with just the occasional (very necessary) break for a swig of water.
No, this composer had no interest in voices at all, and this staging of his ‘opera’ was a shameful waste of money and talent.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
After Sam Smith’s Mobo success, is the help of a pushy parent the surest route to stardom?
Pottermore: JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story featuring 'greying' 33-year-old wizard
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts