Thursday, 2 June 2016

Oh brother there art thou (ETO/Tauride)



Gluck, Iphigénie en tauride (Martin André cond. English Touring Opera)
After a frustrated afternoon booking train tickets to Lewes, the idea of opera coming to me seemed rather a bright one. A meander down the road for a something more local was appealing. Especially as third night on trot. But two hours of glorious Gluck, entirely new to me, was a serious pull.
Martin André made a fine job of the score. If the orchestra was less astonishing than the previous night, this is probably because but this isn’t Gluck’s best: I have no doubt I would have been deeply thrilled by their tackling O+E, for example. A production directed by James Conway used spare but very effective sets by Anna Fleischle, lit by Guy Hoare; the same designers as Don Giovanni, who seem well adapted to the needs of a company bound by the stage of the smallest of the minor theatres it tours, and doubtless modest budget. For the record the set seemed more solid than previous night. 

There is actually only one set of stairs, the other is carved to provide symmetry. The middle archway shone almost every colour, and hanging down in the middle was an angelic-typed pendant. This was quite beautiful and effective. In terms of limited parameters, a heck of a lot was crammed in.
Female voices rule the night: especially Catherin Carby in the title role. Others included Susanna Fairbairn and Samantha Hay as Priestesses of Diana. Strong too was Orestes (Grant Doyle) and Pylades (John Colyn-Gyeantey) were impressive too.  Some recycling of singers, such as Bradley Travers (Masetto previous night) as Minister of Sanctuary. So no weak voices again, as casting was only on quality, not convenience.  Male voices impressed most en blocas the chorus, which especially at the end was deeply rousing and impressive.
It was a pleasure to spend a second evening with a touring company which seems to be really getting in to its stride. 

Overall: an impressive production of a relatively-obscure opera. 

Full cast here.

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