Edited by Chaharper on July 12, 2013, 7:40 pm
The setting, which has a silent prologue and epilogue, is a hall somewhere in England in the 1950’s. Elizabeth the Second arrives and the performance begins. It is this placing of the opera as a pageant in Coronation Year which gives a new perspective to the opera. The backstage areas are populated with organizers and volunteers who conduct the choir, manage the entrances etc. For me it was ‘spot-on’ as far as the colours and designs were concerned. Yes, I can remember the 1950s. This element of the production added interest and reflection.
The actual opera has one fairly shocking scene at the beginning of the third act: Essex bursts in on the Queen before she has put her wig on. It is also unusual in that the last bits of monologue from the old Queen are spoken or declaimed rather than sung.
It is a bold and interesting piece with some great musical sections. It was, I think, ahead of its time. The composer was not writing for courtiers, diplomats and Heads of State: He wrote it for music lovers.
I have no doubt that the audience on that night in 1952 were just the wrong audience.
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