In Ravel's comic opera L'Heure Espagnole, a busy clockmaker, Torquemada, is duped by his flirtatious wife, Concepión. And when her male visitors pile in while the husband is on his rounds, Concepción has to shuffle them into the only possible hiding places – the shop's many grandfather clocks.
For this ingeniously filmed production of the opera, streaming free, the famous Howard Walwyn Fine Antique Clocks becomes the scene of this French-composed bedroom farce set in Toledo.
L’Heure Espagnole is, almost incredibly, the 51st new online, free-to-view event presented by Grange Park Opera in the past 12 months. The ingenuity of this company, when the main season at its country house Theatre in the Woods had to be postponed, has led the field.
Mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse as Concepción entertains her young lover, the poet Gonzalve, sung by tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas. When a UPS delivery driver Ramiro turns up for a repair, he gets more than he bargained for. Watch out for baritone Ross Ramgobin in this comic role. A genuine UPS uniform has been specially shipped from the USA for the occasion.
Howard Walwyn Clocks in Kensington Church Street is the location for Grange Park Opera's comedy
Meanwhile powerful banker Don Inigo (bass-baritone Ashley Riches) devises a way to get Torquemada (tenor Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts) the job of looking after the town's clocks, to empty the shop for his own planned seduction. Through 21 comic vignettes, the tension mounts as Concepción juggles Inigo, Gonsalve, and Ramiro...
Ravel (1875-1937) wrote L’Heure Espagnole in 1907; it was based on a 1904 play by the writer known as Franc-Nohain. The opera was first performed in Paris in 1911, and first seen in Britain, at Covent Garden, in 1919.
Of filming on location in Kensington, director Stephen Medcalf says: 'I find myself with a setting infinitely more beautiful than anything that could be created on stage with the added extra of the vibrant life of Kensington Church Street.
'When we film towards the street, there is a moving backdrop of buses, lorries, dog-walkers, cyclists, joggers, toddlers: all of human life.'
In order to have the finest sounds possible, the soundtrack for L’heure Espagnole was recorded at Wigmore Hall, and singers lipsynched to their own recording on location. Culture Whisper has already taken a peek at this production, and it absolutely wonderful. Highly recommended.
|What||L'Heure Espagnole, Grange Park Opera online|
|Where||Online | MAP|
On 20 Mar 21, Free streaming from Saturday morning, and thereafter on demand
|Website||Click here for more information and to view|