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As Pylades, Paul Grove displayed an impressive freedom at the top of his voice, quite a feat in this rather high tenor part; perhaps Grove sang the role with a bit too much 19th century emphasis and not enough line. But this is a small complaint in the face of some fine artistry. The relationship between Pylades and Orestes is troubled, but based on very strong friendship. Carsen chose to play this down to an extent; certainly I could imagine their relations being a lot more homo-erotic.

Clive Bayley had little to do but bluster as Thoas, but he did this excellently and did it whilst preserving the sense of line in Gluck's music.

Carsen and Hoheisel had one coup up their sleeves, at the end when Diana has spoken and Orestes is freed, the walls lift up to reveal glowing white light. This transformation is slightly muted by the fact that the stage is littered with the bodies of the dead Scythians and we are left with Iphigenia, Orestes and Pylades looking not a little bewildered.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under Ivor Bolton, played with fine passion, matching the intensity of the singers. Bolton's speeds were sometimes on the brisk side, but this was in keeping with the general tenor of the production and none of the singers ever sounded rushed.

I do hope that this production reappears at the Royal Opera House and that its appearance was not a one off; it would be good to see other talented singers in these roles.

Copyright © 3 October 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK




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