Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
FRANK CLIFF More of the fruitful collaboration between Aldeburgh Productions and Almeida Opera was on show with the premiere of Simon Holt's Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
More of the fruitful collaboration between Aldeburgh Productions and Almeida Opera was on show with the premiere of Simon Holt's Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
Its genesis was a newspaper article about the discovery, in 1943, of woman's decaying body inside an old wych elm. For Holt, Bella became an obsession, becoming a musical drama in which he proposes a solution to what is still an unsolved mystery.
First impressions are of a wonderfully atmospheric score, beginning as extended chamber music for violin and piano before a splendid coup de theatre as the pianist's page turner is transformed into the narrator.
The vocal writing for this voice, and later for Bella, is stunning and was sung by Andrew Slater and Rachel Nicholls.
Visually, it is stunning, though a libretto would have been welcome – and I have to confess I am still not sure who put Bella in the Wych Elm.
- 1 Meet the man behind a morbid new craze
- 2 Norfolk pub gets booked up every Sunday for its roast dinner platters
- 3 Long stretch of A47 closed overnight due to crash
- 4 18 sights you will remember from Norfolk in the 1980s
- 5 Villagers hope to take on land near their homes
- 6 Staff and customers gutted after fire badly damages popular takeaway
- 7 Pressure waves of Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption felt across East Anglia
- 8 Custom-built six-bedroom home with indoor slide on the market for £900,000
- 9 Norwich venue offering Afternoon Cheese and it looks incredible
- 10 New operators take over at council-owned leisure centre
The somewhat tortuous ideas behind Salvatore Sciarrino's Infinito Nero derived from the texts of a 17th-century mystic. A mad woman, her texts were taken down from her spoken word: a rapid delivery followed by long silences are mirrored in the music.
A brilliant and erotically-charged performance by Katalin Karolyi – but an anti-climax after what had gone before.