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Rossini – La Scala di Seta



Independent Opera
at London Oratory Theatre, London SW6 27 October 2005

Conductor – Orlando Jopling

Direction, set & lighting designer – Alessandro Talevi

Costume design – Cordelia Chisholm


Giulia – Lorina Gore

Germano – Frank Lopez

Dorvil – Jose Aparicio

Blansac – Philip Kay

Lucilla – Anna Wall

Dormont – David Murphy



A new step on the Operatic Ladder


The emergence of a new opera company with young professionals at its artistic core must surely merit a welcome, and indeed such a welcome from none other than the National Opera Studio is reproduced in the programme for Independent Opera's first production. That they have chosen to open with one of Rossini's most under-performed works makes the occasion doubly welcome.


The sparkling overture to The Silken Ladder has become such a favourite in its own right that it has completely eclipsed the one act comic opera it was intended to proceed. True, the plot is not an especially original one. Giulia and Dorvil have married secretly and before they can find a way to tell Giulia's elderly tutor Dormont, he has picked out another suitor for her. This is Blansac who is a bit stuffy, but Giulia's cousin Lucilla rather likes him.


The action takes place in Giulia's boudoir. She has adopted the ploy of lowering a silken ladder from her window to allow her husband to climb up and join her. The help of Germano, a nosy and talkative servant has been enlisted and the plot unfolds with much misunderstanding, concealment and subterfuge, with the odd tantrum thrown in. Eventually the truth is revealed, Dormont is reconcliled to Giulia and Dorvil's marriage and Blansac accepts consolation with Lucilla.


It is all accompanied by Rossini's quicksilver music, and Independent Opera carried it off in style.


Their production was visually delightful, with soft lighting and very well colour co-ordinated costumes, with the silken ladder doubling as a long feathered scarf. The set was abstract with plain white furniture and a series of fine mesh screens providing lots of entrances and exits to the room and hiding places in the audience's view, and the direction made excellent use of all the permutations. Good “surtitles” were provided on a screen to one side of the stage, which could profitably have been positioned higher up.


A promising cast of young singers had been assembled. Giulia (Lorina Gore) had the most testing music, and gave a good account of it, at the same time as wrestling with her scarf/ladder which tied itself in knots, got torn to shreds and then had to be knotted together. Anna Wall (Lucilla) and Frank Lopez (Germano) also impressed. Orlando Jopling conducted the small orchestra with gusto and loving care.


It has already been announced that the company has plans in place for the next five seasons, and next year will move to a new “home” in the Lillian Bayliss Theatre at Sadlers Wells, renaming to Independent Opera at Sadlers Wells – a welcome arrival indeed.


Serena Fenwick