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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Operashots at The Linbury Theatre

Operashots is a brilliant idea: an evening of several brief operatic pieces. The programme began in 2010, commissioning brand new short works to display a new and exciting kind of contemporary opera. The night is certainly more manageable for those who struggle with extensively long operatic productions. Last year pieces by Orlando Gough, Nitin Sawhney and Jocelyn Pook were performed. This season composers Anne Dudley and Stewart Copeland are in the spotlight.

Last Saturday a few of us went to see the final night of the latest Operashots programme at The Linbury Studio Theatre. This smaller theatre in the Royal Opera House is a great platform for dramatic work. I performed here a few times in my teens with the brilliant W11 Children’s Opera but had forgotten quite how nice it is.

First up we saw ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’; a dark work composed by founder and drummer of The Police, Stewart Copeland. The narrative is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s story, a hideous murder and the killer’s resulting gradual madness. The music is stricken with terror, discordant chords and strange melodic intervals - harmonies clash with pained guilt. Richard Suart was highly expressive as Edgar, singing with excellent diction and vigour while scrunching up his face in a frenzy. Visually it was exciting: the set was stark but magnificent, and imaginative video designs from Finn Ross transformed the piece entirely.

‘The Doctor’s Tale’ was a much lighter, but longer piece for the second half. I have previously sung some of Anne Dudley’s compositions, so it was interesting to see the realisation of a whole opera by her. The music was amusing and enjoyable though I found the story too ridiculous... a loveable doctor is being suspended from work... because he is a dog! It was bizarre to watch, and I had a “is this really happening?” moment, while looking round in disbelief to find everyone else laughing jovially.

Watch this space for future Operashots programmes.

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