The Death of Klinghoffer, ENO 28 February


Picture from classical-iconoclast

Everyone must have seen this and given their opinion by now.  Intermezzo (who is of course inerrant) gave hers without having seen it:  Audience slowly lulled into torpor would be my guess.  And she was quite right.  Well, I spent a lot of the first half asleep, but in the interval I decided to stay out of curiosity and I was alert enough at the end to make my way gratefully towards the exit.

There were of course some extremely lovely choruses and the hijacker Mamoud had a very nice solo number as well.  But the libretto had some of the worst lines ever set to music  (Evil grows exponentially/Laying a weight upon the tongue, anyone?)  That may have been an attempt to avoid unwanted Biblical associations in describing the Holy Land but sounded a lot like ineptitude.  More seriously perhaps, it didn’t give anything like enough opportunity for dramatic conflict between the characters, so there was no opera.  Rats!  I’d already seen the good bits in a concert at the Barbican years ago.

The music was better than the words by a long way, but it was often stuck indeterminately between minimalist and post-minimalist Adams.  The text (words and music) really didn’t tell the story, so we saw a whole intensive care unit of back-projections and intertitles, along with a very good cast and conductor, brought into play to try to keep the patient from dying, .

So a return from the grave for opera seria perhaps, with the characters reflecting upon the emotions they might be feeling to the accompaniment of soporific music…

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One Response to “The Death of Klinghoffer, ENO 28 February”

  1. direland1806 Says:

    Very excited to see this production – I’ve never had a bad experience at the ENO. However, I may take a book for this one! I’d suggest ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’ there to restore your faith!

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