Last Saturday we caught the opening night of English National Opera’s new production of The Queen of Spades. Not entirely a success, albeit with flashes of magnificence.
Most of the problem was David Alden’s: the production had an air of cheapness about it, not to mention laziness. Present were the trademark harsh side-lighting and oddball extras, as well as much piling up of chairs, not to mention the frankly puerile appearance of a bunch of stuffed carton character heads at one point. Of darkness and tension there was practically none. (more…)
David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes was new to ENO in 2009, with some of the same cast as this run, and looking back at my reflections I seem to have been impressed. If I am perhaps a little more reserved on second encounter, four years later, it is still a powerful account of Britten’s pre-eminent work. (more…)
Claustrophobia seems to me a vital ingredient in the atmosphere of Britten’s below-decks tragedy. It was a quality most notably missing from David Alden’s expansive, flat production for ENO. However good the singing, however spirited the playing, there was a crippling lack of atmosphere to this presentation of Billy Budd. (more…)