The Cricket Recovers

TONY COOPER Snape Maltings


> Snape Maltings

The 58th Aldeburgh festival opened in style with the world premiere of The Cricket Recovers, a new opera by Richard Ayres commissioned by Aldeburgh-Almeida Opera and supported by Aldeburgh Opera Benefactors.

Set to a text by Rozalie Hirs (based on a fantasy story by Dutchman Toon Tellegen much in the same vein as Roald Dahl), it was quite a colourful and amusing piece.

We were treated to all sorts of shenanigans in the forest over 18 short scenes (sometimes a bit too short for my liking) with the two central characters, a cricket and an elephant, on a crusade to rediscover themselves.

Cricket (sung admirably by Claire Wild) was depressed and gloomy after consulting the ant and sent deeper off course by some of her fellow animals; and elephant - Jonathan Gunthorpe - had a Winnie the Pooh complex, but, unlike our favourite bear, was unsuccessful in his attempt to climb trees.

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Ant (Anna Burford) turned out, in my mind, to be a bit of a star. Attired in a city suit, complete with bowler and brolly, he was always on the trail poking his nose in, while vole (Allison Bell) moved fast and furious in the night with the help of a small powered tricycle.

Ayres' score - performed by the Almeida Ensemble - was not all that challenging but it was agreeable, melodious and had plenty of vitality.

The whole work was a marv-ellous creative effort helped enormously by an amazing set (punctuated by a large light bulb) by the Brothers Quay, also responsible for the video projection.

The bulb was, in turn, the sun, the moon and in the end provided the energy (a slow flicker at first) that saved Cricket and finally brought her back to happiness.

Elephant still had that tree in sight; and as for Ant: well, he went back on the trail and disappeared into the night.

A charming piece - equally suitable for children and adults.

t There is a further performance on Friday June 17, at 8pm.

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