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Glass The Perfect American

ENO, London 1 June 2013

- - an opera for people who don’t like opera as much as for those who do Londonist

He is Walt Disney, in hospital and towards death, in a sad show based on Peter Stephan Jungk’s German novel “The Perfect American”.

No fun, this fictionalized biography of Walt Disney's final months with lung cancer, to the end and beyond through to his thwarted pursuit of immortality via cryogenic preservation.

His control freakery blighted this "opera" even posthumously by the Walt Disney Company's banning representations of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck et al from the opera stage.

The Perfect American” was premiered improbably in Spain, taken there by impressario Gerard Mortier after his hiring of it for New York City Opera fell through. The reviews from Madrid were "mixed", as they surely will be in UK.

To summarise our response to Mr Glass's 25th of his 26 operas to date (he'd have been hard put to have penned all his repetitive music without the mechanical aid of Sibelius 7 or some such), it is the second theatrical show in the week to have been doomed for a musical website by its score - the other, at Sadler's Wells [R], was Vikram Khan's iTMOi tribute to Stravinsky's Rite of Sprng - and, in Glass's case by a banal libretto.

The visual tricks, which soon palled, would have been as effective on TV (there is a DVD "not available in your country"...). See instead a rehearsal video at ENO.

I finish with links to a couple of the London reviews which express our reservations at full length:

An opera that would have been better as silent film? It doesn't matter how you tell a story as long as you have a story to tell in the first place. Anne Ozorio

Andrew Clements, who contributes a 4-page article to the expensive programme, is honest enough to lament in his review the opera's problem, "the lack of anything truly engaging " ... [The Guardian]

Peter Grahame Woolf