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Osud & Trouble In Tahiti
Richard Trinder, Editor
Giselle Allen as Mila Valkova and John Graham-Hall as Zivny. Photo by Alastair Muir
You have to hand it to Opera North: Not many, if any, opera companies would be brave enough to stage such pieces as Janáček's Osud.

Directed by Annabel Arden, Osud is a "semi-autobiographical tale told in three cinematic acts that unfolds over 15 years". That's what the programme says; the reality is that Osud is 'complicated'.

It was well into the third part of this passionate, dramatic and ultimately moving little opera that I realised what a little gem it is. Beautifully performed, of course, by Opera North, the powerful lead singing of Giselle Allen as Mila and particularly John Graham-Hall as a deeply troubled Živny, propel us through Janáček's lush orchestral work.

There is a rumour that Osud was the Queen Mother's favourite opera. When placed alongside Arthur Askey as her favourite comedian that would make her tastes somewhat broader than mine. Sublime to ridiculous would seem an apt summary.

Osud is not an easy listen. It is not an watch. It was farsighted of Opera North to choose it for their Little Great series and I am delighted that they did.

Trouble in Tahiti

J Quirijn de Lang as Sam, Charlie Southby as Junior and Wallis Giunta as Dinah. Photo by Alastair Muir
Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, directed by Matthew Eberhardt, comes from the far distant end of the operatic spectrum. If Osud was fiery infrared, Trouble In Tahiti is a very cool ultraviolet.

Anybody familiar with Bernstein's work (West Side Story, On The Town, Candide) will instantly recognise the musical style of this piece. But unlike his other works, 'Tahiti' is distinctly melancholic, sombre and a little dark.

Also by Richard Trinder...
The Little Mermaid
Golfing Teddy And The Frog Prince
Phoenix On Fire
Tubular Bells And Interstellar Travels At The Civic
With Great Pleasure - An Exhibition Of Knitwear By Joan Murray
The tale is set in 1950s suburbia where ostensibly happily married Sam and Dinah are drifting apart. Sam (Quirijn de Lang) is the archetypal alpha male and Dinah (Wallis Giunta) just wants a little time, attention and love. Not unreasonable you might think, but Sam buries himself at work and in the gym and Dinah loses herself in the latest films of the day.

The mood is lightened somewhat, albeit ironically, by a splendidly jazzy trio performed by Fflur Wyn, Joseph Shovelton and Nicholas Butterfield.

Once again the performance is greatly enhanced by the ability of Quirijn de Lang and Wallis Giunta to both act and sing. They turn Bernstein's syncopated rhythms into a moving testimony to a failing marriage.

Highly recommended.

Osud & Trouble In Tahiti, 12th October 2017, 9:41 AM