Classical & opera: Short but not sweet

An exciting double bill from the ENO matches Janacek's From the House of the Dead with British composer Mark-Antony Turnage's Twice Through the Heart

Most of Janacek's operas are on the succinct side; his last four don't have a running time longer than 90 minutes. So ENO is presenting Janacek's last opera, From the House of the Dead alongside a curtain-raiser of Turnage's Twice Through the Heart, a 30-minute monodrama about a woman's tragic life which seems to compliment Janacek's dark work in terms of a number of overlapping themes.

Based on the novel by Dostoyevsky, From the House of the Dead takes place in a Siberian prison camp. With a text consisting of poems by Jackie Ray, Twice Through the Heart has a contemporary urban setting, though the mundane terror of domestic oppression means that the woman involved lives a life of sinister incarceration every bit as oppressive and chilling as Janacek's Siberia.

How did the current innovative piece of programming come about? "I'm ENO's Composer in Association," says Mark-Antony Turnage, "and Twice Through the Heart and its companion piece, my one-act opera The Country of the Blind, originated in ENO's Contemporary Opera Studio. Earlier this year, both pieces had their premiere at Aldeburgh and were subsequently presented at the South Bank. I thought that would be that with them, at least for the time being, but ENO's new music director Paul Daniel suggested that Twice Through the Heart could be done again alongside the Janacek. Of course, I'm honoured and thrilled."

And apprehensive, too? "Slightly," says the composer. "The work is a monodrama, so mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley (pictured above right) is going to have to fill the vast Coliseum stage on her own, though she seems to be rising to that challenge. Plus it's scored for chamber orchestra so everything will have to be projected out and played big. At the same time, I'm sure it can and will work and the comparisons and contrasts with the Janacek make the whole venture very intriguing." And how does Turnage feel about being presented alongside Janacek? "Totally terrified," he says, modestly. "Janacek is a composer I greatly admire and House is a masterpiece. How can one follow that? Luckily, of course, I'm on first..."

English National Opera's productions of Mark-Antony Turnage's `Twice Through the Heart' and Janacek's `From the House of the Dead' are at the Coliseum (0171-6328300), St Martin's Lane, WC2 from Mon 20 Oct at 7.30pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones