But there is no consolation in recognition in this hard-hitting production, which never forgets that the story of Oreste washing up on a hostile island is born out of bloodsome family affairs in the House of Atreus. Gerard Jones, directing the rising artists of the Royal Opera House, creates a Tauris ruled by a murderous tyrant that has elements of dystopic societies everywhere: graffiti, summary executions, psychological breakdown.
Strong fare, in short, but of course all this is leavened by the glorious music of Handel, and some absolutely first-rate singing by the Jette Parker Young Artists; these are names of which we shall hear more and more.
The Irish soprano Jennifer Davis as Ifigenia, reluctant priestess, and the Russian soprano Vlada Borovko as Oreste's wife, Ermione, give particularly fine performances that grow and grow in strength. Borovko, as a woman who turns left even on a life-boat, spins her early, pearly sound, as shiny as her nails and pert chignon, into something richly coloured as she overcomes the despot.
As this overthrown Toante, the South African bass Simon Shibambu conveys real physical threat – a trait of the unnerving opening scenes – in contrast to the gibbering, quivering man-child that is Angela Simkin's Oreste.
But the star of the show proves to be the Hungarian baritone Gyula Nagy, an imposing presence who is rarely off-stage from the butchering first scene to the Peckinpah finale, and who weaves through henchman Filotete's substantial numbers the apparently contradictory dual passions of infatuated love and hatred. The New Zealand tenor Thomas Atkins finds hidden treasure in the thankless role of loyal Pilade.
James Hendry crisply conducts a serene Southbank Sinfonia – a little bit of it, with Nick Fletcher, harpischord, punching above its weight and conjuring moments of great beauty to balance the deliberately unrelenting visual traumas on-stage.
Jones, himself a Jette Parker Young Artist, also designs, with Matt Carter, the set: a sea of graffiti tags beside the hostile beach. Costumes are by Donna Raphael, and lighting is by Mimi Jordan Sherin. Even her sunshine is cruel.
|What||Oreste review, Wilton's Music Hall|
|Where||Wilton's Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Tower Hill (underground)|
08 Nov 16 – 19 Nov 16, 7:30 PM – 10:20 PM
|Price||£15 - £25|