Glyndebourne - Tangier Tattoo

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Theatre Royal


>NorwichTheatre Royal

Glyndebourne Opera deserves every credit for trying to expand its traditional audiences that savour polished performances of classics.

With music by John Lunn and conducted by James Morgan, and with a libretto by Stephen Plaice, Tangier Tattoo is described as an operatic thriller. The director is Stephen Langridge and the plot, which is a tissue of surprise, suspense, violence and love, is played out on the complex, ever-changing set designed by Alison Chitty.

The pattern of tall uprights that repeatedly create fresh patterns as the stage revolves carries evident symbolism. What is missing is any persuasive sense of the ever present sea or the oppressive heat that add so much to the Moroccan location. Tourist togs add a welcome touch of colour.

Crime is the basis of a novelettish plot, with rather too many bang-you're-dead episodes.

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Double-crossings add dimensions to the affairs of a young Englishman, the bespectacled Ronald Davitt, as he tries to develop a relationship with Nadine, a role played with a good deal of flexibility by Katherine Rohrer.

The orchestral accompaniment is rather too loud. This is especially the case in the crucial early stages when it is important to hear the words. Often the singers seem to struggle to make their points, and the music tends to intrude when it would be better if it could support the action. Generally the tone is serious, but some humour comes when assassins rush in only to empty their pistols into the pillows lying on the bed. The scene with the three silly girls from the States is another comic moment to relish.

All in all, this is a long way from Mozart. That is no bad thing, either, if it widens the public for opera. Whether Tangier Tattoo will survive two centuries is another question.

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