Monday, 13 August 2018

Edward Lambert's new Lorca-inspired chamber opera

Edward Lambert: Cloak and Dagger - Fleur de Bray, Andrew Greenan - Music Troupe, Tête à Tête (Photo Claire Shovelton)
Edward Lambert: Cloak and Dagger - Fleur de Bray, Andrew Greenan
Music Troupe, Tête à Tête (Photo Claire Shovelton)
Edward Lambert Cloak and Dagger Affair; The Music Troupe; Tête à Tête at RADA Studios Reviewed by Jill Barlow on 8 August 2018 Star rating: 2.5 (★★½)
Edward Lambert's latest opera, based on Frederico Garcia Lorca

The erudite and accomplished composer Edward Lambert has once more given us a new 'bite sized' Music Troupe chamber opera, Cloak and Dagger Affair (based on Federico Garcia Lorca) but 40mins long, apt for these dimensions, this time staged at the highly prestigious RADA Studios as part of Tête à Tête:The Opera Festival on 8 August 2018, directed by Jaered Glavin, conducted by Thomas Payne

However, I felt that in some respects the actual realisation of this production on the day, fell short of other works of his I’ve reviewed previously.
Despite all the hard work of the very capable cast (‘we couldn’t have given it any more’ as one of the lead singers said to me after the show) but maybe that was part of the problem - sometimes perhaps there was just a touch of the ’overtrying syndrome’, ‘less can be more’ as the old adage goes. The one singer who shone consistently throughout in this respect was mezzo soprano Kate Howden (Marcolfo -the security guard) whose quiet efficient demeanour, complete with percussion, claves etc, representing text messages arriving on stage from a mysterious stranger, made a welcome contrast to all the high drama, over frenetic at times, around her.

I felt all the ingredients were there. Highly experienced soprano Fleur de Bray as Bellisa, the sensual new young wife of an older husband Don Perlimplin, gave us powerful tones in bel canto style as she fully entered into the drama of the role, as her elderly husband (played by Andrew Greenan) starts to accuse her of being unfaithful to him, and suspicion falls on a mystery young man, a stranger who has been seen in the garden in a red cloak. The parts for the soloists apparently proved more challenging to fully realise vocally, than anticipated, with seemingly jagged leaps and awkward tonalities, which served to add inner tension to the roles, with the action centred around the main prop on stage, a large double bed to manoeuvre around in classical/ modernist style. Set against all this is the intrepid piano accompaniment on stage, aptly played by composer Edward Lambert, himself, which didn’t on the whole seem to rise to the same level of difficulty expected of singers’ vocal lines. (but one would need to see the actual score to determine this at all).

The renowned, well established and experienced bass Andrew Greenan as Don Perlimplin did sterling work in the role of quasi cuckolded elderly husband, in powerful tones, but his image on stage to my mind was not helped by the fact that instead of wearing, as planned, a splendid red Cloak as per Lorca’s original play, it was decided to clothe him as a red hoodie for this modernist version which (call me old fashioned)I found out of place for a stalwart, slightly stocky ageing man huffing and puffing with emotion as he thrust a dagger into his chest in the title role as jealous husband. (in any case –in this surrealist plot –to let you into a secret – the mysterious stranger becloaked in the garden, turned out to only exist in his frenetic young wife’s imagination).

So by keeping their cool-they might have all lived happily ever after-----moral in that somewhere. Oh and by the way, there were some lovely well executed duets and a longish trio, here and there in between the otherwise somewhat fast pace frenetic drama. I look forward to Lambert’s next ‘Tete a Tete’ ventures.
Guest review by Jill Barlow, Theatre Music Critic
(c) 11 August 2018

Cloak And Dagger Affair
Music – Edward Lambert
Words – By Frederico Garcia Lorca ( Adapted By The Composer )
Conductor – Thomas Payne
Director & Designer - Jaered Glavin
Cast: Belisa – Fleur De Bray
Don Perlimplin – Andrew Greenan
Marcolfo - Kate Howden
Piano - Edward Lambert

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