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Martinu Julietta


ENO at The Coliseum, London, 17 September 2012


Taking his visual cue from Parisian piano accordions, designer Antony McDonald created ENO's coup of the year with a series of enormous stage-filling accordions for Richard Jones' production of Martinu's surrealist opera from the mid-'30s.


It tells us about about Michel Lepic (Peter Hoare), a Parisian bookseller adrift in a town where everyone has lost their memories. He had become lost in fantasy and memories of Julietta (Julia Sporsen), a girl he became obsessed with once in the provinces. After seeking her again, he settles to remain in a dream state at the end.

Julietta (libretto by the composer after Georges Neveux) is all about the fickleness of memory and, in the '2000s, has resonances now with current concerns about Alzheimer's (c.f. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's own memory loss as discussed poignantly in Saturday's Guardian - a "must read" article !).

Huge stage-filling accordions dominate each of the three acts, with the cast having to negotiate its button keys precariously in the "forest" of the central Act 2, during which Martinu's rich music flowers to greatest effect (Edward Gardner).

It is all deliberately disorienting and will long linger in the memories of ENO's rapturous first night audience. One of the best of ENO's recent productions; high praise for all concerned on stage, in the orchestra pit and in the production team.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Recording: there is a highly regarded CD from Supraphon.
Of early reviews, I recommend classical iconoclast blog and Mark Ronan's.

More photos (Guardian)


Photos:Richard Hubert Smith