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Review: WNO - Boulevard Solitude @ WMC

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 14/03/2014 at 12:33
0 comments » - Tagged as History, Movies, Music, Stage

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Welsh National OperaBoulevard Solitude  
Wales Millennium Centre
Wednesday 26th February 2014

WNO's Fallen Women season came to an end with its best work, Boulevard Solitude.

We need to hear more of the music of Hans Werner Henze. He wrote plenty of operas and rivalled Benjamin Britten in that field in the second half of the 20th century.

Infused with jazz, big band, Latino and more, this is a whirlwind score also cramming in 19th century Romanticism, along with 20th century experimentation. It has a brilliant mix which worked very well. The story is once again of Manon Lescaut modernised, but still very uninteresting but this time redeemed by the curious state of the musical landscape.

Mariusz Treliński, who directed both productions, hit on a much more accessible and much less vile interpretation of Manon here with Boulevard. A modern opera audience is willing to see shocks and accept an evening of different interpretations. Because of that, he was not booed when taking a bow after the performance here.

Using parts of the same set as Manon, it was partly a 1950s feel and had cinematic scope and theatrical devices in both regards. This is a short opera (no more than an hour-and-a-half) and considering my distain for the story, the length felt about right. Sarah Tynan as Manon was curt and viperish in the role. Playing Armand des Grieux, Jason Bridges looked better suited for a musical (perhaps just his student-like costume), but maintained a youthful and determined presence for Manon’s attention. Adrian Thompson a whiny Monsieur Lilaque and Benjamin Bevan the devilish and nasty brother Lescaut.

A brilliant evening of modern opera. No shame in opera and certainly no shame in seeing 20th century opera as well.

Sex, drugs, and opera indeed!

Rating: 8/10

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