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<<  -- 2 --  Roderic Dunnett    DRAMATIC TABLEAUX


The text feels theologically rather limp (though it does have its moments), but operatically full of potential. Just as Punch and Judy and Down by the Greenwood Side drew inspiration from the tradition of mediæval mummers' plays, so The Last Supper -- a series of 'dramatic tableaux', as composer and librettist prefer to characterise it -- is conceived like a modern parable, filmically perceived through a controlled time-frame.

Harrison Birtwistle: The Last Supper. William Dazeley as Jesus. Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin, April 2000. Photo: Mike Hoban

Jesus (William Dazeley, a young baritone of exquisite pure tone, formerly Glyndebourne's Almaviva and Owen Wingrave) is the last to appear, subtly gliding into the circling group of young men, much as Steven Berkoff's Herod sinuously infiltrated himself amongst his courtiers in Wilde's Salome, and the only one able to emerge into a new era (that of today) without passage down a white-lit time-tunnel. Especially during this sequence and its reversal, Wolfgang Göbbel's lighting and Alison Chitty's restrained settings were a high point of Glyndebourne's production (first seen the preceding Easter in Berlin).

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Copyright © 21 November 2000 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK






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