Review: Sunken Garden, English National Opera at the Barbican

Roderick Williams stood out as Pollux in ENO’s Castor & Pollux and is brilliant in this. There are no surtitles and none would be necessary if the other singers sang as clearly as he does.

English National Opera 2013The Sunken Garden
Roderick Williams with Kate Miller-Heidke (c) Mike Hoban

The music is excellent and the 3D video visually stunning:

English National Opera 2013 The Sunken GardenEnglish National Opera 2013The Sunken Garden
Claron McFadden, Roderick Williams, Katherine Manley (c) Mike Hoban

The last thing I saw, “Table” at the Shed, used a bare stage with a table and a few chairs, a handful of excellent actors and a simple family saga but ended up much greater than the sum of its parts. This had a great score by Michel van der Aa, very well conducted by André de Ridder (not easy when you need to integrate singing on video with live singing, beautiful singing), an intriguing story by David Mitchell (the one who wrote Cloud Atlas), fantastic visual effects and yet it somehow ended up as less than the sum of its parts. Each of those elements is great and it is well worth watching for that alone – I’d rather see an experiment that does not quite work than a company just playing it safe.

 

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