Tuesday, April 5, 2011

English National Opera Presents "The Return of Ulysses"

Tom Randle and Pamela Helen Stephen sing Monteverdi
(Photo: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian)
"In the intimacy of the Young Vic, a venue which seems to have a special gift of reining in and sharpening the more sprawlingly proportioned ENO, this had urgent, if doubtless to many irritating, impact. Andrews, an Australian theatre director, achieves shock impact by assaulting the senses, especially the visual. The use of big screens, as here projecting real-time close-ups, is already an operatic cliche which fights with the action and is best ignored. Stillness is an alien notion. Why stand on the spot to deliver your big, sensuous, ornamented aria when you could run, thrust your groin or, in one case, take your knickers off?" [Source]

High praise for the creative team after the jump.

(Photo: Johann Persson)
"Three components have made this joint production by English National Opera and the Young Vic remarkable: Monteverdi's music, Jonathan Cohen's musical direction and the ensemble work on stage. Cohen clearly knows every ounce of the score in depth and he lives the music while he superbly directs his forces. There are no histrionic devices; communication with singers and orchestra is governed by knowledge and respect for text and music. Notwithstanding the contradiction in terms, I would describe Jonathan Cohen as a humble star. Stage director Benedict Andrews has created extraordinary theatre. His singers don't keep going on and off stage: more often than not, they stay on stage – regardless of whether they should be there according to the libretto – and interact with the story line. This must be an exhausting experience for the singers but they become true parts of the whole rather than just playing their roles." [Source]

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