posted 17 Nov 2005 05:39 pm
"One Touch of Venus" Opera North, Friday 11th November
Whilst there was much in “One Touch of Venus” that was enjoyable, it was patchy. The music of Kurt Weill did not come to life and with a plot as thin as this, the music was very important. Ron Li-Paz, who played Whitelaw Savory, had an excellent operatic voice, but as is often the case this did not work so well with what was not traditional operatic music. It did work however in the rightly doleful quartet “The Trouble with Women” sung with Lorne Geeting, Eric Roberts (Taxi Black/Dr Rook) and Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts (Stanley). An operatic singer who successfully crossed the musical divide was Christianne Tisdale (Molly Grant) showing the breadth of her musical experience not only in good singing, but in expression and timing as well. Even more important in this role, we could hear the words! Much of Ogden Nash’s witty writing did not come across clearly. This seems to be a problem generally with opera, so much so that the ENO now displays the words on a screen above the stage.
Venus (Karen Coker) looked exactly as she ought to and sang beautifully as did Loren Geeting as Rodney Hatch. In general the comedy worked very well and brought a spark to the evening, especially when performed by Christianne Tisdale, Carole Wilson (Mrs Kramer) and Jessica Walker (Gloria Kramer). The Kramer mother and daughter were an outrageously entertaining double act. Adrian Clarke was an excellent supporting player as Zuveti.
Emma Ryott’s costumes were colourful and stylish. Those of the skeletons and all the characters in the Dr Crippen scene were particularly effective. Unfortunately the costumes of the gods and goddesses (I assume) that came to lure Venus back were unattractive and unintentionally funny.
Antony McDonald’s sets and Adam Silverman’s lighting complemented each other very effectively, creating atmosphere and ensuring that the show was always visually interesting.
There was not much dance in “One Touch of Venus”, nor much scope for creative choreography. Will Tuckett created some competent, but standard pieces. I would have liked to see more of the skeletons’ quirky dance and 10 seconds of tap dancing just wasn’t enough for me.
“One Touch of Venus” was performed well and the evening was entertaining, but lacked a certain spark which meant that overall it was a bit disappointing.
Posted: 17 Nov 2005 05:58 pm
Thanks for sharing your impressions, Patricia.
Even more important in this role, we could hear the words! Much of Ogden Nash’s witty writing did not come across clearly. This seems to be a problem generally with opera, so much so that the ENO now displays the words on a screen above the stage.
As you mention, it's a recurrent problem in opera (sometimes it seems like they're singing in Italian or French or some other language).
Seriously, as I understand it -- and I'm no expert -- the techniques that are necessary in order to properly form the notes are antithetical to the techniques that are necessary for good articulation...and in opera, the notes come first.
Still, it's distracting to those of us who treasure language for its own sake.