Friday 4 September 2009

Jacko's Hour

Writer Tim Satterthwaite and composer Elfyn Jones have come up with a striking premise for their new opera, Jacko's Hour; set on in a fairground, the plot is a re-telling of High Noon.

The opera will be premiered on 11th September at the Pavillion Theatre, Brighton by a new company Opera Engine, set up by Satterthwaite and Jones; with Jones conducting and Satterthwaite directing. Written for highly practical forces (nine singers and small ensemble), it seems to have garnered good reviews when they previewed the work at Tete a Tete's opera festival this summer at Riverside Studios.

Of course, questions have to be asked. Do we want an operatic version of High Noon? We are promised a 'punchy, accessible and fast-based show', which again might make you think 'Wow, I want to see that' or hmmmm. I must confess that my original view was the latter.

But, Jones and Satterthwaite have a collaboration which goes back a number of years. Since 1997 they have written 5 stage works together so must be in the enviable position, rare in the up and coming opera composer, of having a back-log of experience to draw on. The advantage is that they can learn by their mistakes, but the disadvantage is that expectations will be commensurately high.

The company uses a fine band of young singers, thus fulfilling another admirable role in giving young professionals more exposure and experience.

I realise that my view of this new opera is slightly less than fully enthusiastic, something about the plot source and promised style worries me; I want a new opera not a new play with musical twiddles in the back-ground. But all we can do is go and listen with open ears and mind.

Opera Engine are bringing the production to London from 15th to 19th September when they will be at the Bridewell Theatre.

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