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<<  -- 3 --  Roderic Dunnett    THE HAUNTED MANOR


Gilpin and her excellent set and costume designers, John Braithwaite and Carol Stevenson, have translated the action (in part, and neither tiresomely nor aggressively), to the early 20th century. Maciej (an impressive young Australian bassish baritone, Grant Doyle) and the two brothers appear in trenchcoats of the Pilsudski era, while their vociferous friends -- a capable male chorus -- blast out military, and later hunting, songs with as much punch as 'It's a long way to Tipperary'. Perhaps not coincidentally, George Conrad's translation of Jan Chechinski's libretto, rather satisfyingly adapted by Mollie Petrie, echoes the complicated consonants of Polish : 'Let's drink before parting' is not exactly easy to spit out, but nor are 'grz' or 'szcz'.

Maciej (Grant Doyle) with Polish soldiery in the Opera Omnibus staging of Moniuszko's 'The Haunted Manor' at Haslemere Hall, Surrey

Red -- the colour (with white) of Poland's national flag -- predominates : in Miecznik's and his retainers' apparel (even the small boy page's scarlet boots), in the sets and props of his household (down to the teapot), in the soldiers' red and white crossed and furled flags, in the wall plaques and the furniture. It might seem overlarding, but far from it : the point, the Polishness, is always there, haunting, aptly, the eye and mind alike. Zbigniew (the RNCM-trained Tim Hicks) impressed from the start -- a nicely rounded sound, and pleasant slightly Figaro-like personality; Stefan (Jeremy Bowyer, another Manchester and Trinity alumnus, plus an organist and broader musician latterly turned tenor) has the harder task : he started slightly woolly, but much that followed was sporadically invigorating, and, albeit unevenly, impressive. All three voices need work, but all made their mark.

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Copyright © 26 April 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Zagreb, Croatia




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