About Turn Theatre, Lodge Cottage, Rickmansworth Park, Rickmansworth WD3 4HF email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“***** FANTASTIC” The Herald
Edinburgh Festival Fringe opera review: Orpheus and Eurydice, Alice Saville, Fest ****
The Fringe is known as the place that production values come to die, so when you see an opera company represent the journey to hell and back with not one, but two fully realised set changes—from a shiny floored hospital room with blinking monitors, to a Teletubbies-
About Turn have addressed the dearth of opera at the Fringe in serious, if engagingly bonkers, style. Their lavish-
This is an Orpheus who's been dragged out of his underworld (even if he can't bring Eurydice with him) into a lively, fun performance that's heavenly for opera fans and is anything but the living hell that opera sceptics might suspect. Go: you won't look back.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe opera review: Orpheus and Eurydice, David Kettle, The Scotsman ****
There are some jaw-
Edinburgh Festival Fringe opera review: Dido and Aeneas, Broadway Baby ****
“About Turn’s Dido and Aeneas is an innovative new production of a timeless opera, featuring an ensemble of very talented emerging performers. The young company have modernised Purcell’s classic baroque work, creating an exciting, visually stunning hour of music. Based on Book IV of the Aeneid, the opera recounts the tragic love affair between Dido, Queen of Carthage and Aeneas, the Trojan hero. This is a mesmerising, modern take which works powerfully by bringing the tragedy of the classical lovers into the twentieth century.
Their take on the opera sees the classical source converted into a WWII setting, with Aeneas as a fighter pilot who must leave his lover for the call of duty. The costumes are brilliantly done, with Dido sporting a dark green tailored suit, hat, fur stole and perfectly coifed hair in the opening scene. Later, she enters for the closing scenes of the tragedy in a vintage wedding dress, joining the unhappy ranks of Miss Havisham and Blanche DuBois. The chorus are given a sinister uniformity with nurses’ and soldiers’ outfits. All the cast wear dark eye makeup and a subtle coat of white face paint, which gives them a hollowed, gaunt pallor to suit the oncoming tragedy.
As the music begins to play, the entire stage is covered with a white, opaque gauze, hiding the set, which is an inspired touch in the small theatre. It acts in place of the red velvet curtains of an opera house, encouraging the audience to really listen to the prologue. The fabric then drops to reveal the ensemble, with grievously troubled Dido at the fore singing I am prest with torment. The musicians consist of a cello, violin and electric keyboard. Their dynamic playing perfectly captures the immense range of feeling in the score, running the gauntlet of emotions: love, jealousy, hate, rage, sorrow.
Dido’s reversal of fate occurs when the Sorceress, plotting the downfall of Carthage, sends an elf in the disguise of Mercury to inform Aeneas of Iove’s command that he must set sail to found a new Troy on Latin soil. Dido becomes increasingly riddled with fear and sorrow, singing, The skies are clouded. Hark! In this modern setting, this moment is Aeneas’ departure for war. The lights dim and we hear the sound of fighter planes, as the opera takes a dark turn. Dido enters in the wedding dress, sits, drinks, while somewhat meta-
This is a mesmerising, modern take which works powerfully by bringing the tragedy of the classical lovers into the twentieth century. The fate of war-
Edinburgh Festival Fringe opera review: Dido and Aeneas, Fringe Review
“The most innovative interpretation I have seen in a long time of what is a timeless piece by one of England’s foremost composers. It was also in the top flight from a technical point of view, namely the singing and orchestration.... The About Turn Theatre Company has assembled a formidable cast, orchestra and crew for this production... Rachael Cox is a tour de force as Dido. Possessed of imposing voice, she delivers each aria with a degree of precision that has the audience hanging on her every note. Dido and Aeneas presents a particular challenge to singers in the range of emotions they are required to convey in a such a short space of time, particularly so in the case of Dido. Ms Cox’s faultless performance demonstrated her complete understanding and command of the role. Put simply, she nailed it.
Timothy Reynolds as Aeneas was no less impressive. An Australian with a resonant tenor voice, he brought appropriate angst and tension to the role, no more so than during the gripping denouement. The rest of the cast doubled as nurses, witches, sorcerers and, in the cases of Matthew Nicholls, a quite endearing sailor. Collectively they produced a precise, clearly articulated and extremely enjoyable interpretation of the arias in which they performed. They were supported by an impressive chamber trio of harpsichord, violincello and violin and the ensemble was skilfully orchestrated by the commanding musical director, Chris Brammeld.
Christine Hatton’s innovate set creates an air of sadness and sobriety even before we start. A three-
But these are details. This is a timeless piece by one of England’s foremost composers and this was the most innovative interpretation I have seen in a long time. It was also in the top flight from a technical point of view, namely the singing and orchestration. The About Turn Theatre Company is clearly going places.“
Edinburgh Festival Fringe opera review: The Diary of Anne Frank, Miranda Heggie, The Herald *****
WRITTEN in 1968 by the Russian composer Grigory Frid, The Diary of Anne Frank is a one act monodrama for solo soprano and a poignant, yet surprisingly uplifting piece, with a message which is as relevant today as it was at the end of the Second World War. Soprano Polly Ott is a fantastic communicator, simultaneously radiating the exuberance and vulnerability of a young teenage girl, with an alluring voice and perfect annunciation throughout. Cypriot pianist Stavroula Thoma played the piano reduction of Frid’s chamber orchestral score with slick precision, bringing a vast array of colour to Frid’s atonal harmonies. With simple staging, director Sebastian Ukena’s production for About Turn Theatre Company very much shows that sometimes less is more; glowing black and white portraits of children who have fallen victim to genocide around the world appear like a candle-