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<<<  <<  -- 4 --  Robert Hugill    OCCASIONALLY STUNNING

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It is difficult not to think that Chen Shi-Zheng has somehow missed the point of this opera. Whilst I cannot entirely dismiss the production, given that occasionally it was stunning, too often the stage action seemed either underpowered or purely decorative.

In the pit Lawrence Cumming directed with his usual skill and aplomb. The orchestra was led by Catherine Mackintosh but included players from the ENO orchestra mixed with period instrument specialists. All the ENO string players played on gut strings, using period tuning. The results were entrancing and impressive. Cumming made some adjustments to the scoring, to allow for the large scale of the Coliseum theatre but the results were always convincing and appropriate.

The audience at the Coliseum was quite substantial, but the house was by no means full. Also, I was aware that the average age seemed to be quite high. That may be a result of the performance being an early start (and hence early finish one), but with a director as go-ahead as Chen Shi-Zheng I would have hoped to see rather more young faces.

Judging by the results of this production, either ENO need to keep stronger control of what Chen Shi-Zheng does and doesn't do, or they need to ensure that in the next Monteverdi production in the cycle, Chen Shi-Zheng works with a full cast of singers experienced in their roles.

Copyright © 24 October 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK

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ROBERT HUGILL INVESTIGATES THE WORLD OF COLLABORATIVE OPERA

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