Almeida Opera, Snape
CHRISTOPHER SMITH The 55th Aldeburgh Festival opened at Snape Maltings with brilliant singing and challenging originality.
The 55th Aldeburgh Festival opened at Snape Maltings with brilliant singing and challenging originality.
The starting point was a performance of Arias in Italian from Handel's Triumph of Time and Truth.
Conducted by Gary Cooper, an assured quartet gave a delightful account of the long embroidered vocal lines, with the top-flight counter-tenor William Purefoy revelling in his fearless prowess. Addressing all the singers, were the female or males as St Trinians' girls raised giggles early on. It was only later that more interesting points emerged with the first staged performance of Gerald Barry's Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, which had previously been seen only on Channel 4.
Produced on sets of his own design by Nigel Lowery and with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group directed by Thomas Ades, this opera explored allegorical themes related to those behind the Handel work. Librettist Meredith Oakes ensured that there were plenty of intriguing differences for the composer to reflect.
The singing was highly accomplished with every requirement matched. No less striking was the gradual emergence of a musical style that became an expressive norm, thanks to self-confident persistence.