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The performance was quite superb. Lisa Milne, as Sian, brought great presence and a beautifully shaped vocal line to Sian's part. For much of the opera, Sian must remain controlled, but Milne let herself go in stunning manner during the closing parts of Act 3 as she grieved over her father's body.
Much of her role is quietly, lyrically melancholic; we never see her happy. Even the profoundly beautiful love scene with Evan has disturbing overtones, as it takes places in Act 2 when she has already been married to Mal for seven years.
Leigh Melrose's Evan is a sympathetically tortured creation. He is the principal engine of the disasters, but we see him refracted through his love for Sian. So though much of his role is violent, what was memorable for me was the aforementioned love duet with Sian.
As Mal, Sian's husband, Peter Hoare managed to bring sympathy to an unsympathetic part. Mal isn't loveable, but Hoare makes us understand him. It was in Mal's part, particularly in Act 3 when I felt strongest the shadow of the pibroch and Scots traditional music in Mal's vocal line, all expressively realised by Hoare. Peter Purves brought immense depth to the General. He was not a bluff idiot, and engaged us even though the character's activities did not always fall out well.
Here is one extract character, Sian's younger sister Megan played by Sarah Tynan. Megan appears to be in some way disturbed, but this is never made explicit. She makes up songs and her role is at a slight tangent to the plot. Tynan, superb as ever, was touching in a role which for me did not quite add up.
Copyright © 11 October 2007
Robert Hugill, London UK