Sonya’s Story Riverside Studios 08 August

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'Failed again!' as Uncle Vanya might put it

To start with, we had a talk from who might well have been Bill Bankes-Jones, Artistic Director of the Tête à Tête Opera Festival, and someone else who was definitely Sally Burgess, Director of Sonya’s Story.  BBJ explained that Tête à Tête was meant to fill the void where the National Opera Studio, BAC Opera and Bridewell used to be and to allow artists and audiences to try something new.  Sonya’s Story was a work-in progress amounting to half of an opera planned by Neal Thornton, who was also Mr Sally Burgess.

The set was as you can kind of see above, dominated not by a nasty piece of over-exposure but by a large portrait of Professor Serebryakov (grey) and his new wife Yelena (pink).  What happened in the piece was that Sonya (Caryl Hughes–Welsh accent) ran through her part in the action of Uncle Vanya and Cozmin Sime (Romanian accent) did the same for Uncle Vanya and Dr Astrov.  There wasn’t much interaction between them–though a non-singing Yelena (Ilana Corban) did come on to swing in a swing, eat an apple, and dance with a rather reluctant Sonya.  So it was rather opera by messenger speech.

The music (played by piano, violin, flute, double bass and percussion under the direction of Lionel Friend) was somewhere in a space defined by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Gershwin and the more tony musicals, but strangely enough the whole experience was very affecting and I don’t know why.  Probably because the high points of Uncle Vanya are now hardwired into my being.

Anyway, this was certainly a good way to spend £ 6,  and it will apparently be joined by a Yelena’s Story to make up a complete reinterpretation of Uncle Vanya.

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One Response to “Sonya’s Story Riverside Studios 08 August”

  1. Neal Thornton Says:

    Thanks for the feedback

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