Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Gluck Iphigenie en Tauride
The Royal Opera, London September 16 2007

Susan Graham, Simon Keenlyside, Paul Groves, Clive Bailey, Gail Pearson, Claire Wild, Cecile van de Sant, Jacques Imbrailo, Krzysztif Szumanski

Director: Robert Carson
Design: Tobias Hoheisel
Lighting: Peter Van Praet
Choreography: Philippe Giraudeau
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Ivor Bolton

During a time when Handel rides high, the austerity of Gluck comes as something of a shock. Taking his cue from b & w filming, Carson has a pervasive black for this myth of endless warring and human sacrifice to appease the Gods.

With the assistance of Peter van Praet's stage lighting, however,cropped black comes in many shades of grey (c.f. Hélio Oiticica's monochrome pictures at the current Tate Modern exhibition). It was counterpointed by the white of uncovered flesh and a symbolic burst of white light for the happy ending.

Carson uses his chorus of dancers to emphasise the mayhem and banishes Gluck's singing chorus off-stage, which is a drawback. Susan Graham dominates the proceedings, wielding her sword but patently reluctant to use it; relief is long delayed until the cathartic finale.

Good of course to have a period instrument orchestra, but in the large opera house it was less effective than might have been hoped, and the whole definitely less involving than with Zurich's Orchestra La Scintilla under William Christie on the superb Arthaus DVD.

A word of praise for the lavish ROH illustrated programme book, which elucidates the complicated mythical background and the opera's performance history; a pity only that they do not encourage directors at Covent Garden to write a few words about the concepts of their productions, as does Welsh National Opera in theirs.

Peter Grahame Woolf