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1992, Welsh National Tour, Iphigenie en Tauride

Iphigénie en Tauride

Composer : Christoph Willibald Gluck
Librettist : Guillard and Du Roullet after Euripides’ drama
Conductor : Charles Mackerras
Venue and Dates : Welsh National Opera Tour, 1992
Cardiff (New Theatre) : 18, 22, 28 May
Liverpool (Empire Theatre) : 4 June
Southampton (Mayflower Theatre) : 10 June
Birmingham (Hippodrome) : 16, 18 June
Bristol (Hippodrome) : 23, 26 June
Swansea (Grand Theatre) : 2 July
Oxford (Apollo Theatre) : 7, 9 July
Manchester (Opera House) : 16 July
Production : Patrice Caurier, Moshe Leiser
Stage designs : Christian Rätz
Costumes : Etienne Couléon
Performers :
Iphigénie : Diana Montague
Oreste : Simon Keenlyside
Pylade : Peter Bronder
Thoas : Peter Sidhom
Welsh National Opera Chorus
Welsh National Opera Orchestra

Soundbites

Maurice Dunmore, Opera News, November 1992. http://www.metoperafamily.org/operanews/_archive/1192/reviews.1192.html

The concentrated strength of Gluck’s score dominated Welsh National Opera’s Iphigénie en Tauride, seen at Birmingham Hippodrome on June 16. Secure, well-toned singing was matched by stylish, taut playing under Charles Mackerras. Tragic intensity pervaded, but the musical shape of this lyric masterpiece was maintained.

Co-directors Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser opted for simplicity and timelessness. The setting was no more than two irregularly shaped flats, moved against each other to punctuate the drama, and the costumes had a drab, vaguely contemporary quality. Acting verged incongruously on the melodramatic, with agonized stooping and diagramatic chorus gestures too much in evidence, though the denouement had an overwhelming reality. The happy ending was muted, suggesting further horrors to come in the House of Atreus.

In the title role, Diana Montague characterized with deep conviction, using her vibrant mezzo with ringing authority to convey both her early forebodings about having to sacrifice Oreste and her later harrowing preparation for the deed. Simon Keenlyside’s well articulated Oreste, hapless but dignified, was also a major portrayal. Firm supporting performances included Peter Bronder’s noble, warmly sung Pylade, Peter Sidhom’s worried, brutal Thoas and Alwyn Mellor’s lofty Diane. The French text made for communication difficulties in this unfamiliar opera, as enunciation was not crisp.

Orestecardiff

Opéra international, September 1992 (Elizabeth Forbes on the Cardiff performance):

…. Jeune baryton aigu, Simon Keenlyside trouve en Oreste un emploi idéal, avec un constant souci d’équilibre entre texte et musique…

…The young high baritone Simon Keenlyside found in Oreste an ideal vehicle, caring constantly for a balance between text and music……

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