<< -- 2 -- David Wilkins ALL DECEPTION
Alex Lowde has provided something like a cage in which a lot of the action takes place. There may be metaphorical conclusions to draw -- or there may not -- and nothing, here, is too deliberately symbolic. The entire piece works with cinematic swiftness -- scene into scene as the unmistakable fingerprint of Shostakovich sound (ironic, parodic, fleeting, ruthless, ephemeral and death-haunted) processes past. The expertise of conductor Patrick Bailey's ensemble is near faultless. This opera was composed, amazingly, between the first and second of the Shostakovich symphonies -- but everything that is to be relished in the last works (Symphonies 14 and 15, for example) is already there.
Jeremy Huw Williams as Kovalyov with The Nose. Photo © 2006 Alastair Muir
There are musical moments of sunrise lyricism -- our dodgy barber may wake to a pounding head and the need for vodka rather than tea with his breakfast but the music could easily be Leonard Bernstein or Aaron Copland praising the land from where the cornflakes come. Andrew Rupp is meticulously clear of diction as the barber and sings with palpable surprise at the discovery of a rogue foreign-object in his breakfast roll. With a wife like Catherine Hegarty (more a 'fishwife' than a barber's) you can see why he might favour the sauce. She's especially wonderful in encouraging him to, at all and whatever the cost, dispose of the incriminating object. 'Out!' she sings and you just know that her nagging is everyday and interminable and unanswerable.
Daniel Auchinloss as the Police Inspector and Jeremy Huw Williams as Kovalyov. Photo © 2006 Alastair Muir
There's a deliciously high-camp performance from Daniel Auchincloss as the Police Inspector who discovers the sadly bewildered barber trying to dispose of the evidence in the River Neva. 'You've dropped something ...!' he squeals in the high-tenor of his exacting tessitura. The cardinal-like nature of his costume (give-or-take the skull badge attached to his hat ...) and the limb-stretching postures that he assumes with a 'Carry-On-Up-The-Kirov' aplomb that would have challenged even Kenneth Williams makes him one of the production's star turns.
Copyright © 23 May 2006
David Wilkins, Eastbourne UK