Naughty but nice
DAVID THOMPSON enjoys
English National Opera's 'Lulu'
at the London Coliseum
This new production of Lulu must surely be counted as one of the
most outstanding achievements in the history of the ENO, fully worthy to
rank alongside such notable enterprises as the Goodall Ring. Given
some disastrous recent productions of standard operatic repertoire by the
house, I approached the Lulu experience with some apprehension, since
it is a far-from-conventional opera in the first place, but the result is
a triumph in all departments.
Read out of context, in the cold light of day, the scenario of Lulu
is likely to induce a mixture of incredulity, sheer loathing, and compensating
amusement. The anti-heroine is, by turns, showgirl, bohemian, society tart,
and lesbian lover. She meets her end in London, butchered by Jack the Ripper.
Given all this, set to an atonal score, the opera hardly carries the promise
of a fun-filled night out!
But that is to reckon without Berg's genius, and a perceptive production
and ideal cast. Lulu, in this splendid realisation, most assuredly
is a fun night out. At the most superficial level, it is richly entertaining
and hugely enjoyable, and the music is simply ravishing, gripping the listener
from its first bars to the end of a long evening. But the total experience
is much, much more than that.
Copyright © 6 June 2002
David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK
THE ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA WEBSITE
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