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As regards Ochs, it is now difficult to work out where Ochs finishes and John Tomlinson starts. That I could say the same thing about his performance as Harrison Birtwistle's Minotaur is an indication how this singer inhabits his roles.
Frankly, Tomlinson's Ochs was a little too old and a little too boorish for my taste; the libretto's Ochs is notably younger than he is usually played. But faced with Tomlinson's complete performance, I capitulated. You could just about believe that Tomlinson's Ochs would make a decent presentation at court, even though he was amazingly boorish and self-centred.
Andrew Shore made a very finely-observed Faninal, Janice Cairns as Sophie's Duenna managed to make rather more of her words comprehensible than some singers in the part, and Barry Banks was luxury casting as the Italian tenor.
McVicar staged the big ensemble scenes deftly, so that it as always clear who was whom and what was going on. Octavian appeared with only five attendants in the presentation of the rose, but McVicar made up in bling what he lacked in numbers.
Copyright © 10 June 2008
Robert Hugill, London UK