I saw *Greek* at BAM on 12/6/18.  It's an opera by Mark-Anthony Turnage from 1988, his first opera.  The libretto was by Steven Berkoff, based on his play.  I saw Turnage's opera *Anna Nicole* at BAM in 2013 and loved it, so I was very excited to see this.  Yes, he wrote an opera about Anna Nicole Smith.  Check out the review in my archives!

 

*Greek* is Turnage's take on the Oedipus myth, set in working-class London in the 1980s.  It was lean and mean, I got a strong sense that I was hearing something truly fresh, new, and exciting, not for a moment imitating other operas.  He was writing an opera and writing it on his terms.

 

That said, it really was an OPERA.  The vocal writing was expertly handled (not an easy thing), the words were set in a way that you could understand, even with the *East Enders* accents of the characters (though the occasional supertitles were appreciated).  The orchestra also got out of the way of the singers, which adds to the intelligibility of the words.  The orchestration was the strongest element of the show, bright, dazzling, full of energy.  Stuart Stratford conducted soloists from the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.  No violins, which is highly unusual.

 

The four singers were Alex Otterburn as Eddy (aka Oedipus), Susan Bullock as Eddy's adopted mother (and other roles), Allison Cook as Eddy's wife and biological mother (spoiler alert - - and other roles), and Andrew Shore as Eddy's adopted father (and other roles).  All four were tremendous, Otterburn in particular giving a stellar performance in a demanding role.

 

The high point of the score was the revelation scene, when Eddy's adopted father tells him the truth about them finding and adopting him, and the details that lead Eddy to realize that his wife is his biological mother.  It was startling, chilling, thrilling.

 

The production was directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins and wow, he really made the most of what he had.  That's built into the piece, with only four singers and twenty instruments in the pit, but Hill-Gibbens amped up the creativity by having an extremely minimal set and a pared-down and direct staging.

 

Here's a short "preview" of the Scottish Opera production, to give you a sense of what the show was like.  It looks identical to what I saw at BAM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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