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Jonathan Dove – Siren Song

Davey Palmer – Brad Cooper

Jonathan Reed – Mattjis van de Woerd

Diania Reed – Amaryllis Dieltiens

Regulator – Mark Omvlee

Captain – Marijn Zwitserlood

Siren Ensemble/Henk Guittart


Chandos  – CD CHAN10472 [77 minutes]

Recorded Live at the Grachtenfestival, August 2007


This opera is based on the true story of a sailor, one Davey Palmer, who was deceived by a bogus lonely-hearts advertisement showering his fictitious girlfriend with a mountain of gifts and was conned out of a significant sum of money.  As the notes are careful to point out, this subterfuge was perpetrated in those bad-old-days before the advent of mobile phones and the internet – albeit these two inventions seem to have opened up opportunities for fraud on a scale not previously dreamt of. 


There is just one act, lasting a little over the hour, but there is a good build up of dramatic tension as the action moves swiftly through a series of seventeen scenes.  It is an intimate, small scale piece, requiring just five singers with a chamber ensemble of ten players.


I found the orchestration a little blander than some of Dove’s more recent works, but the atmosphere of loneliness, of a ship and the sea, and of the colourful environments of Singapore and Bali are realised very well. 


The recording was made at a live performance at Amsterdam’s eclectic Grachtenfestival and is remarkable for its clarity, allowing every word to be understood.  Brad Cooper’s secure tenor is highly effective as the gullible Davey, Mattiijs van de Woerd sounds a little more reticent as is deceiver, and Amaryllis Dietiens perfectly floats the siren melodies of the elusive Diana.  The two officers are appropriately stern and fair-minded. 


Congratulations to Chandos for bringing an interesting work to a wider audience through this recording, which has certainly whetted my appetite to see it performed on stage.


Serena Fenwick