The Lo Passion

FRANK CLIFF Aldeburgh Festival event at Snape Maltings


Ritual and myth are at the centre of Harrison Bertwistle's the Io Passion which last night opened this year's Aldeburgh Festival.

There is no narrative as such, rather a repetition of a sequence of events which occurs seven times. Alison Chitty's atmospheric set which allows us to see both the outside and the inside of a house, as well as noting the passing of time via the waxing and waning of the moon is central to the action.

An affair between a man and a woman has ended. The woman will no longer let the man into her home. They communicate by letter and meet only in her dreams: Dreams obsessed with the Greek myth of Io, whom Zeus once seduced, and whose wife Hera changed into a white cow as punishment for his infidelity sending a gadfly to persue her all over the world.

It is a complex work for which one was grateful for a programme note for despite fine performances from three men and three women who sing and speak the text not all of Steven Plaice's libretto was clear.

Nevertheless it is a wonderful effective chamber opera or piece of music theatre call it what you will – dramatic, sexy and humorous; all mirrored in Bertwistle's atmospheric scoring for basset clarinet and string quartet, magnificently performed by Alan Hacker and the Quatuor Diotima.

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A second performance on Friday June 18.

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