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It was good to hear Yann Beuron singing a French piece in London. His poetical Gonsalve was an hilariously effete turn, complete with remarkable orange outfit. Beuron manages to constantly spout Gonsalve's idiotic verse whilst making us understand why Concepcion might find him attractive.

Andrew Shore as Don Inigo was in his element, adding another to his gallery of elderly eccentrics and making much of Don Inigo's indignity when getting stuck in the clock where Concepcion has hidden him.

It was good to hear Bonaventura Bottone's as Torquemada, though the role is not particularly large; a key element of the plot is that Torquemada is absent for an hour, winding up the town clock.

Christopher Maltman was an inspired piece of casting as Ramiro; he looks the part. As Ramiro moved the clocks about for Concepcion he gradually removed clothing until he was down to just a vest, thus displaying his muscled torso for Concepcion (and us) to admire. But Maltman has more than just the requisite physique -- he's a fine subtle singer. His Ramiro had an appealing naivety and shyness, far removed from Maltman's normally cocky stage persona.

Ravel ends the opera with a masterstroke -- a Habanera for all the characters. Jones brings on a group of dancing girls, a deliciously ridiculous image in the clockmaker's shop. But one which matches the off-the-wall nature of the finale.

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Copyright © 25 April 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK


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