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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Hugill    A DAZZLING MIX


Martinu tells the story in a series of short scenes, embedding the narrative in the daily rituals of the village -- religious services, weddings, popular dances. The music reflects this and the score includes religious hymns, bells, an accordion, a klezmer-like stage band, spoken word and melodrama, in an eclectic but dazzling mix.

Under Mackerras's direction, singers, the huge chorus and orchestra played this in convincing, passionate fashion. Much of the opera is swift moving dialogue, but a distinctive feature is Martinu's insertion of slower moving sections. These might be orchestral interludes or the religious hymns, but they form more contemplative passages, balancing the dialogue.

Pountney's production takes full advantage of the new Royal Opera House facilities, the basic set is a series of inter-linked platforms and walkways filling the stage to its full height, width and depth. On these Pountney creates the daily life of the village. The opera opens with a religious rite, the priest, Father Grigoris (an impressive Peter Sidhom) and acolytes stand on a platform high above the stage with the chorus arrayed around him.

A scene from Martinu's 'The Greek Passion' at Covent Garden. Photo © 2004 Bill Cooper
A scene from Martinu's 'The Greek Passion' at Covent Garden. Photo © 2004 Bill Cooper

The opera includes not only spoken dialogue but linking narrations for Aga (the senior civil/military power in the village). These could have been awkward, but delivered in convincing and masterly fashion by Richard Angas, they threw the narrative forward in a natural manner.

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Copyright © 29 September 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


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