The Rake's Progress at Wilton's Music Hall
What a wonderful surprise this The Rake’s Progress performance was! It was my first night at Wilton’s Music Hall and I immediately felt in love with such a charming and magical venue (and also with its bars!).
OperaGlass Works is a new opera company and this was its first production. And what a brilliant entrance on the UK (and world) operatic scene! This The Rake’s Progress production is a perfect example of work done well from the beginning to the end: an outstanding staging idea, a top class opera conductor, a superb orchestra and a group of excellent singers. And above all: a lot of passion for the opera.
Selina Cadell and Eliza Thompson production set in 18th century is brilliant. Working with very few stage elements it uses the limited Wilton stage combining it with the whole hall space resulting on a very immersive sensation. Specially delicious were costumes designed by Rosalind Ebbutt.
A lot of credit of this big success is due to Laurence Cummings marvelous musical direction. As a baroque opera specialist he brought the most classical part of the score to the front paying full attention to every detail in the magical Stravinsky writing. It was amazing what a good balance he managed to get from an orchestra with reduced strings but almost-full woodwind. Also the balance between the on-stage orchestra and the singers was perfect.
Having Southbank Sinfonia was another good choice from OperaGlass. It is one of the most interesting young orchestras in London with a very interesting programming (those free rush hours concert!) and very focused on opera (Don Giovanni with the British Youth Opera, La Tragédie De Carmen with ROH’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme are good examples of this). The results were outstanding. Every soloist passage was perfect and the ensemble playing of this tricky score showed a lot of work and rehearsal to get it right.
The cast was a front-line one with most of them having sung already at ROH, ENO, Met and such places.
Victoria Simmonds as perfectly characterized as Baba with a first class acting and a charming singing.
David Soar confirmed the good impression I had when I listen to his Don Fernando at this year Proms Fideo. His Nick was delightfully sung with a perfect phrasing.
Susanna Hurrell has an impressive voice at all the registers, bright and forceful. Her voice flowed like magic through the hall.
Finally, Robert Murray has a warm voice with a perfect technique. His Tom was the perfect combination of good singing and acting.
So I totally loved this production and if OperaGlass Works keeps doing things like this I am quite confident that they are going to be the next big thing in the UK opera scene.