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David Leveaux's production has worn well; loosely Edwardian in tone with a rather abstract, semi-ruinous palace for Herod, its only real oddity is the constant presence of the Christians in what appears to be Herod's garden.

The opera was conducted by the young Trinidadian conductor Kwame Ryan. He displayed a strong command of Strauss's score but there were moments when I would have liked rather more transparency of texture in this massively orchestrated work. There were moments of untidiness which suggested that perhaps Ryan and the ENO orchestra might have needed longer to get to know each other.

It should not be necessary to mention the colour of the conductor's skin; but opera conductors of Afro-Caribbean descent are still rare enough for me to want to comment how heartening it was to see Kwame Ryan on the podium.

This was a creditable performance of Strauss's score, but I'm sure that all concerned will go on to give us greater performances.

Copyright © 2 November 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK




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