The Mask of Orpheus, The Coliseum - ★★★★★ - Until November 13, 2019


If you are looking for a linear plot and long melodic lines, this is probably not your cup of nectar. This gigantic opera by Harrison Birtwistle uses the Orpheus myth as its basis, but his score and libretto give director, Daniel Kramer, the scope to let his sense of invention run free. This is a wildly imaginative, multi-layered look at the story and musically it ranges from coloratura to squeaks and grunts. There are also interludes of electronic music to punctuate the story accompanied by mimed action and gaudy parade. Indeed, the ENO production is quite dazzling with projections, challenging choreography and even aerial artists. Daniel Lismore's costumes were wonderfully unbelievable and outlandish, with incredible frocks frequently spattered with crystal encrustations. All of the performances are brilliantly sung, but Peter Hoare stands out in the phenomenally difficult role as Orpheus the Man, and his singing is simply sensational. Kudos also to Martyn Brabbins who musically directs huge orchestral forces with incredible panache and creates some quite wonderful sound pictures. This is a challenging feast for the eye and the ear. It is, however, work which definitely deserves to be seen and heard by all adventurous theatre-goers.

Reviewed by D.S.J.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until November 13, 2019
Oct 25, 29 & Nov 7, 13 at 7:30 pm
The Coliseum
Nearest station: Charing Cross

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