Posts Tagged ‘Janacek’

From The House Of The Dead, WMC Cardiff 08 October

October 9, 2017



This was certainly very impressive as music, but didn’t really make a personal impact on me, which I think was the point. This was really a matter of the production I think, though more of a lyrical-romantic inflection in the playing (which I think is possible) would have been welcome.

Perhaps the prisoners should have been more individualised and less spread out, while the pantomime of Don Giovanni and Kedril just seemed pointless here–with neither a point of its own nor in reactions from the prisoners. At the end we did not have an eagle flying to freedom but rather a projection of a shadow, which didn’t really cut it.

And surely Shishkov’s narration as the final one of the prisoners’ stories ought to both be affecting and to sum up or exemplify what has gone before–the senseless random murderous cruelty and the spark of God within each one also. Unless that was just meant to stay with Dostoevsky…

The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Arcola Theatre 21 August

August 22, 2011


That's his sister's white dress she nicked...

A couple of blokes came out dressed in white shirts and waistcoats.  One sat at the piano and started to play hesitantly.  The other encouraged him by (among other things) humming, tapping his pencil on his notebook, performing dance steps until the music got too fast, and getting the audience to clap in time.

Then that came to an end and it became clear that the guy who was not the pianist was the tenor and he was going to sing The Diary of One Who Disappeared, which is somewhere between a song-cycle and a very small oratorio and recounts how the hero is led astray by a gypsy girl and leaves his family to unite his fate with hers.

I found to my relief that I could understand almost all of the words (it was sung in English; texts were not provided).  The pianist played the very plinky piano–was it meant to resemble some folk instrument?–and a rather blonde gypsy slinked her way across the stage.  Nice to know that the Moravian countryside enjoys reliable supplies of peroxide.  Three women stood up from the front row to form the chorus.

A breakthrough in Janacek scholarship: the 113-year-old composer is still giving poor Kamila no peace

I was moved by the tenor’s final declamation, though overall  I thought the staging betrayed nervousness that the piece wouldn’t stand on its own merits.  Perhaps that it just wasn’t long enough–50 minutes overall is a bit of a strange length for an evening’s entertainment.  The soprano (Mary Bevan) had an easier time of it than the tenor (Robert Murray), perhaps because she had something a lot more singable to sing.

I’m not sure why the text’s indications of the gypsy girl dropping her blouse and sleeping in a rumpled shift led to the tenor removing his waistcoat and cufflinks.

And so ended my first visit to a Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola!

Kat’a Kabanova Opera Holland Park Friday 08 August

August 8, 2009


Well, I failed to understand this. Which was a pity, because the score as a score is lovely (and was very well-played) and the singers were bloody good to, especially the wonderful Anne-Sophie Duprels as Kat’s (and Tom Randle as Boris).

But where was it set? We had a Russian samovar, mid-European mid-nineteenth-century costumes and what seemed to be part of Tatlin’s (early Soviet era) tower imprisoning Katya.

Does this matter? The point of Ostrovsky’s original play is that it’s a recognisable portrait of the patriarchal way of life among certain sections of Russian society of his time, so things like rampant suspicion and the assumption of Kabanicha’s absolute power make sense. But not so much if it’s set Somewhere at Sometime.

And then is there enough drama to support an opera? Boris leaves and Kat’a decides to die, but before that their final scene really isn’t long enough (just one example). And of course inserting an unnecessary interval into what is 1 hr 40 min  of music didn’t help.

I still don’t understand…

There is some description from OHP here.