The Return of Ulysses

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Snape Proms: Snape Maltings

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

For the month-long Snape Proms season the watchwords are excellence and variety. Every expectation was satisfied by this splendid performance of Claudio Monteverdi's rarely heard Italian opera that dates from 1640.

The production was by Tim Carroll, who made a virtue of economy and simplicity to put the emphasis on human emotions and delightful music.

Tall and confident in every gesture, with an ample and flexible voice, Daniel Hoadley triumphantly took on the role of the hero finally returning from the Trojan War.

As Penelope, the faithful, long-suffering wife, Diana Moore was a picture of patience. She maintained her personal position in statuesque calm until near the end. Then, as she overcame her final doubts and realised that her fate was justified, her triumph rang out in exultation.

These two great characters were presented as the focus of contradictory forces.

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Thunder and florid music gave body to deities and allegorical figures while, down on earth, kings and courtiers, swineherds and rustics all had their part to play. Wit, humour and even a rather good wrestling match contrasted with loftier emotions.

All the time, under Michael Chance, the Britten-Pears Baroque Orchestra did not just add colour and flavour to the drama, it also added to the spectacle, with the musicians with their period instruments grouped on either side of the stage.

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