In the Locked Room & Ghost Patrol
RNCM Theatre, 7 November 2012
A double bill of contemporary opera: that is what you get with this lot.
The first offering, In the Locked Room, was based on a story by Thomas Hardy, and it was an intriguing, mysterious affair. Perhaps it could best be described as a preternatural love story. Huw Watkins’ music was eerily effective.
To many, Louise Welsh will be a familiar name. She is a fine novelist, author of The Cutting Room amongst others, and was the librettist for Ghost Patrol, our second opera of the night. This might have been – and in parts, perhaps, it skirted with being – a love triangle too, but as it turned out it touched mainly on the far-reaching effects of war. Their night patrol had undergone an awful ordeal, some foul accident that’s oh so slowly revealed, but when Sam and Alasdair, the two ex-comrades who’re apparently fairly well adjusted, meet again in Civvy Street, all the buried memories come rushing to the surface.
There is again plenty of fine music, this time from Stuart MacRae. A Scots ballad is hidden in the opera, one of those visions in marble, and the score for the fight sequences is exciting and very effective. He can do a lot of different things and can do them very well, can Mr. MacRae. Raymond Short choreographed the fight sequences and it struck me that they’re rarely seen at all in opera, and never as well as this. I wondered why, then the answer struck me. Opera singers aren’t generally as – how should one put it? – as mobile as Nicholas Sharratt and James McOran-Campbell are here.
All in all, this was an excellent night at the opera.