Opening the season with a non very known opera by a non very popular here Romanian composer was a risky venture. Probably the most audacious from the London big five (LSO added the Enigma to its only English opening to make it more pleasant to classic audiences). And it went well. Very well.
The concert at the Royal Festival Hall was a reprise of the one they did at Enescu Festival in Bucharest earlier this month, just with more rehearsals. It was admirable how every detail in the rich Enescu score was taken care by the orchestra conducted by a full of energy Vladimir Jurowski. He presented it with a very dark approach. The orchestral parts were suffocating at moments but properly balanced with moments of relax and lyricism, having all this internal stress in the music flowing from one side to another naturally.
The cast was a dream cast:
- Paul Gay as Oedipe sung as a 1st class singer. This role is perfect for him.
- Willard White as Tirésias put expression over beauty as only an intelligent 70 years old singer can do it.
- Christopher Purves as Créon. Two bad guys on a week for him. Convincing here too.
- This opera is a men thing, but the ladies were all supreme: Ruxandra Donose, Ildikó Komlósi, Gabriela Iştoc and a resounding Felicity Palmer as Mérope
A simple but effective light design projected over the organ helped the mood of the music to be pervaded into the auditorium. Also a couple of non-black costumes (white one and red pants) added an expressive point to the drama. Singers coming in and out of the stage and a minimal acting from some of them makes me consider this as a quarter-staged performance (in between a concert performance and a semi-staged performance)