Review: Thebans #ENOThebans, English National Opera

Julian Anderson’s new opera starts in the past, then to the future, then to the present, so I’ll start with Act II, then Act III, then Act I. The second act, Antigone, was for me the highlight of the opera. It started with Peter Hoare as Creon, singing an amazing, virtually unaccompanied aria. With Julia Sporsén throwing intense emotion into Antigone, it was spell binding. The third act, The Death of Oedipus, was a wonderful ending, featuring the ethereal counter tenor Christopher Ainslie as Theseus and Roland Wood as the dying Oedipus. So to Act I. before it started, someone came on stage to tell us that Roland Wood had a severe throat infection but would sing it anyway, despite not having sung for a fortnight. He asked for our understanding but Roland Wood was excellent. It did mean he had not rehearsed it with the other singers, though, so it didn’t quite hang together as it should and I couldn’t really feel engaged with it. The otherwise excellent conductor, Edward Gardner, took it slower than the approximate timing suggested it should be, perhaps nervous about Roland Wood keeping up, and the lighting sometimes left the person singing in the dark. I’m sure most of this will be sorted by the next performance and the other two acts were so good.

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