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Subject: GLORIANA, a film (and a production)
From: Andrew Cooper <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Andrew Cooper <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 29 Jun 1999 14:42:25 GMT0BST
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The programme for last night's first in a run of four performances
of GLORIANA by Opera North at the Grand Theatre, Leeds - the rest are
on 1,3,5 July - includes a page about the forthcoming filming of this
highly-praised (by me, among others) production.  (The programme
also has also a two-page spread of pictures of Bette Davis, Flora
Robson, Glenda Jackson, Cate Blanchett, Miranda Richardson(!),
Rosalind Plowright and Josephine Barstow as QE1.)

This film, not a documentary, will also, it says here, not be "a
conventional recording of the opera. It is an imaginative response
to a performance of Britten's work and will be shot partly in live
performance [on July 3 and 5], partly backstage and partly in
controlled conditions in a studio.  It explores the opera's themes
of private passion and public responsibility, of backstage and
onstage, the relationship of costume to performance, of mask to
face."  Well, we shall, I hope, see.  But here's what I saw last
night:

Earl of Essex - Thomas Randle
Lord Mountjoy:  David Ellis
Queen Elizabeth I:  Josephine Barstow
Sir Walter Raleigh:  Clive Bayley
Sir Robert Cecil:  Eric Roberts
Penelope, Lady Rich:  Susannah Glanville
Lady Essex:  Emer McGilloway
Cuffe:  Richard Whitehouse
Spirit of the Masque:  Nicholas Sears
Blind Ballad Singer:  Michael John Pearson

Chorus of Opera North
English Northern Philharmonia, conductor Paul Daniel

Director:  Phyllida Lloyd
Designer:  Anthony Ward
Choreographer:  Kate Flatt
Lighting:  Rick Fisher

The production was covered on the list in 1997 in reviews by Scott
Smith and myself, so I'll just say that it is difficult to imagine a
better staging, especially given Opera North's limited resources.

Most of the cast also sang in 1997, and many of those in 1993-4
as well, when the staging was new.   Josephine Barstow's voice is
well past its best-before date, but the distinctive timbre (which I
happen to like) is still there, and she really inhabits the part.
Randle's baritonal tenor was in very good shape, and he is an
excellent actor.  It will be interesting to see what he does with
Alfredo next season.

Susannah Glanville seemed as fresh as a daisy after all those
Arabellas and certainly nailed her high notes.  Emer McGilloway (who
is Irish and new to the part) couldn't really manage Lady Essex's
lowest notes and has a smallish voice, but David Ellis, also new to
his role, was an imposing Mountjoy with dark voice to match.  The
fight between him and Essex was pretty spectacular (credit to fight
director Peter Woodward).

Of the others listed above, all veterans of previous performances,
only Pearson's unintelligible Ballad Singer was a liability.  Special
mention for Eric Roberts, who normally plays comic roles (and will be
sashaying away as Offenbach's Jupiter next season) for his
uncaricatured Cecil.

Paul Daniel received a warm welcome on his reappearance with the
company he headed with distinction for ten years, and the applause
was just as great for the (augmented) orchestra, which featured a
tabor and a gittern.  The brass, as expected, was spectacular, but
the orchestral effects that I mainly noticed were in the woodwind
during some of the quieter moments.

A really good evening in the theatre to round off the season.  Next
Sunday is my first Glyndebourne trip of the year (to CLEMENZA).

Andrew Cooper ([log in to unmask])

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