Choice: Opera - Xerxes
Friday 06 March 1998
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the maxim Emma Jenkins has clearly taken to heart with her revival of Nicholas Hytner's 1985 production. Quite right too. What on earth would you want to change from this Olivier award-winning show which virtually singlehandedly recovered Handel's reputation as an opera composer? The tone is set by David Fielding's beautiful, tremendously witty designs which evoke a stroll around Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens while setting up terrific gags with an exploding bridge, po-faced hedge trimmers and more giant cacti than Gardener's World. Hytner's smart translation and his production digs deep into the heart of the characters and the result is a deliciously funny and startlingly truthful depiction of the perils and pleasures of romantic love. Tonight is the last night. If you've never seen it, then rush to the telephone. For wit and exuberance (and tremendous dramatic singing from the likes of Janis Kelly) there's nothing to touch it.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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