Jason, English Touring Opera/RCM 04 October

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Picture from ETO's Facebook page

Picture from ETO’s Facebook page.  (That set makes it look as though everything is happening indoors…)

This blog and its pals thoroughly enjoyed their outing to the wilderness that is SW7 for this opera by Francisco Cavalli, dating from 1649.  The important thing is that the music is really very, very good.  Since Cavalli had moved some way towards giving important characters nice cantabile arias by comparison with Monteverdi, it’s also more accessible and immediately appealing than you might think.  The orchestra–identified as the Old Street Band, which seems to be ETO’s period instrument group–played divinely under conductor Joseph McHardy, and I have never seen an opera orchestra looking so happy either.  The singers were uniformly very good as well–there was a cast change announced, which I think came down to Demus/Apollo being sung by a student cover from RCM–it certainly didn’t detract from anything.

The story is that of Jason and Medea (obviously enough) turned into a tale of amorous entanglements and happy endings, which was the kind of thing that happened to Classical plots in those days.  My only criticism would be that the opera was surely aiming at a sharp contrast between knockabout farce and the romantic-tragical-dramatic, but the farce was not really in evidence here and many jokes went missing.  On the other hand, the full-on treatment of the Royal Academy of Music’s 2010 production with self-propelled stage props and the like would have been difficult for a touring production.

Go see!–that music really is extremely lovely.

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