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The Lighthouse

Libretto & music by
Peter Maxwell Davies

English Touring Opera

Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House London, 11 October 2012

Photo: Alastair Muir

A stunning perormance of this great chamber opera, underpinned by the superb Aurora Orchestra under Richard Baker.

It all gelled together and we were able to watch the whole libretto on side panels (c.f. Albert Herring; surtitles are to be provided when that production goes on tour, I was told). A clever little touch was that when one of the keepers went up briefly to deal with the light, he became hard for us to hear - and the side-titles failed too...

The prologue - an Enquiry about the disappearance of three lighthouse keepers, based on a true incident - has "difficult" modernist music, but attention is held by the dialogue, ostensibly by "relief" service employees who had eventually arrived to find "everything shipshape and in good order" as they testified... but no lighthouse men...

After the interval it gets easier musically,spiced with a lot of "character" music with exotic instruments - guitar, crotales, flexatone, out of tune piano; a sing-song from the three beleagured lighthouse men eventually turning very nasty indeed.

All three singers characterised their main roles strongly and held attention as their relationships soured from fractious to worse.

The resolution is a brief epilogue, even nastier, and the whole was a memorable experience, well adapted to touring; definitely one to catch when it comes near enough to you!

Peter Grahame Woolf

P.S. Reviews: The Telegraph gives away too much... So no link!

Best: Mark Berry in Seen&Heard.