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Timothy Robinson was making his role début as Vere and what a very impressive début it was. Hearing a lyric tenor in the role is getting rarer nowadays and Robinson brought real style and grace to the role. His prologue and epilogue were profoundly moving and had uncanny moments where he echoed Peter Pears. Robinson's Vere will undoubtedly grow; at the moment he lacks something of the moral authority the role needs. This was most noticeable as he was playing alongside two such experience singers as Keenlyside and Tomlinson. Robinson must also learn to do nothing with more dynamism; his failure of nerve in the court martial scene could have been more vivid, more intense. But this was a notable début and it was interesting hearing how much Robinson has developed as a singer.

Timothy Robinson as Captain Vere. Photo © 2005 ENO/Clive Barda
Timothy Robinson as Captain Vere. Photo © 2005 ENO/Clive Barda

The remaining roles were very strongly cast. James Edwards made a notable début as the novice, brave enough to strip off more than his shirt for his flogging, and Toby Stafford-Allan impressed as Donald. He made a notable ensemble partnership with Adrian Thompson's Red Whiskers and Gwynne Howell's Dansker. One of the production's strengths was the way these smaller, but important roles were so well cast with a mixture of experience and not so experienced singers. Gwynne Howell's experience was particularly notable as he was one of the singers in the cast who had actually worked with Britten.

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Copyright © 6 December 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK


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