It wouldn’t be fair to say that Arcola’s production of Sanson et Dalila has been the best operatic production of the season because I have been only here for less than 4 months. But it is the best one I’ve seen so far (and I have seen 14 productions in this little time). All in this production was take care of with a lot of intelligence and love: costumes, lighting, make-up, on stage movements, acting… and everything at the service of the DRAMA.
I have to start this review standing how brave Ensemble OrQuesta guys are for accomplishing the enormous task of staging Lully’s Armide. It requires a big amount of work for musicians, singers, choir, staging… Second is to thank all of them (and Grimeborn and Arcola Theatre) for bringing us a baroque French opera to London. This repertoire is not popular at all in the UK (the next chance to see a French Baroque opera will be Rameau’s Dardanus by the English Touring Opera).
An opera with animals talking and singing? Well, this is not the most unbelievable thing we have seen in an opera, is it? With Janacek… wait, I’m going to write it properly. Janáček. Now. Well, actually I copied & pasted it from wikipedia. Whatever, with the J composer operas you always expect a brutal drama directly to your guts, with oppressive music creating a dark atmosphere. But with The cunning little vixen (Příhody lišky bystroušky, I got a thing with these funny things on top of the characters) it’s different and music projects happiness, fun and light.
When I arrived to London I though that I was going to fill all my opera needs with the ROH Covent Garden and the English National Opera. No way. I am vicious and London has much more than traditional opera to offer. I discovered Opera Holland Park (I enjoyed there La Rondine, Katia Kabanová and Zazà) and then the Royal College of Music doing Chabrier’s Une éducation manquée and Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias in a double bill.