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Mieczysław Weinberg The Passenger

ENO at The Coliseum. 19 September 2011

" - - two interminable halves, hammering home the unrelieved misery of life at Auschwitz." Financial Times

Catherine Ashmore's illustration L brings together an event at Auschwitz, with its memories of two passengers on an ocean liner above

An over-rated cult opera (1968) with a slender story - Nazi guard encounters one of her few surviving Jewish charges from Auschwitz (1940s) and agonizes about her role there - tricked out with elaborate staging (brought from Bregenz) and portentous music, which never really delivers.

Generally fined down to ensure audibility of the (surtitled) dialogue, between times the orchestra is given to sonorous outbursts which sound dated, arriving in England half a century after the events depicted (or imagined) in Zofia Posmysz's novel; now 88 [R], she appeared on stage at The Coliseum.

Well put over, with ENO giving it their all, but finally yet another misguided and very costly endeavour. For their positive extracts from the "mixed" reviews, see below, but do check out the reviews themselves, e.g. "ENO's The Passenger is a complete dud" [**Telegraph]...

Peter Grahame Woolf

NB See quite opposite conclusion of our review of the Bregenz DVD !

Kurt Weill Street Scene

The Opera Group/Young Vic co-production
Music by Kurt Weill Book by Elmer Rice Lyrics by Langston Hughes

Young Vic, London, 20 September 2011

Paul Curievici Geoffrey Dolton Paul Featherstone Elena Ferrari Susanna Hurrell James McOran-Campbell John Moabi Kate Nelson Charlotte Page Paul Reeves Simone Sauphanor Joseph Shovelton Harriet Williams Nathan Vale

Conductor Keith Lockhart (BBC Concert Orchestra) Direction John Fulljames Design Dick Bird Light Jon Clark Choreography Arthur Pita

Lewisham Choral Society Reay Primary School Vauxhall Primary School Wyvil Primary School

Next day, Kurt Weill's Hollywood opera at the Young Vic was a triumphant theatrical
experience, marred only by serious audibility problems for the words in the first half (surtitles would have helped).

By the interval we'd sorted out the cast and their roles in the searing drama which was to come and surprise those of us new to Street Scene and who hadn't done our homework. The background (tenement life in Manhattan's Lower East Side during a heatwave in the 1940s) was supplied in a brilliantly informative programme in the style of a mock broadsheet of the period.

Praise all round for the music under Keith Lockhart and the production of John Fulljames; every participant is named in the programme and every single one will be proud to have taken part. The children's groups were brilliant, professional to every last one.

For a comprehensive review which conveys our feelings about this great night at the Opera, instead of duplicating all that is written about this triumphant revival of a 2008 co-production between The Opera Group, the Young Vic and the Watford Palace Theatre, may I link you to Robert Hugill.

After a month at the Young Vic, where you will do well to try to catch it, it will be touring.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Tour dates:
25 & 26 Sep Theater an der Wien, Vienna
4 Oct The Anvil, Basingstoke
7 – 8 Oct Edinburgh Festival Theatre
11 – 12 Oct The Riverfront Theatre, Newport
14 & 15 Oct Hull Truck Theatre