Walking into the lobby of Vienna’s StaatsOper is a dramatic experience in itself. The grand marble staircase and exorbitant artistic decoration are pleasantly opulent. Details adorn every surface from ceiling frescoes to a bust of Mahler in the lobby.
So on to Elektra. This one-act opera was first performed in 1909. The overall production seemed to lack a coherent arc of intensity. The performance was somewhat fragmented and this seems to be down to the performers. As Elektra’s (Baird) performance at times felt forced and rather egocentric. One wished for greater interaction with the other protagonists and a performance less strained. The lacklustre staging, set designs, and costumes did mean that there was nothing to take away from the singing. There was a certain spark missing from this production, one felt the audience losing interest and indeed a significant number began to trickle out of the auditorium long before the curtain fell.
The State Opera orchestra was superb, exhibiting great precision and intimacy with this complicated score. Strauss’s phrases, which call for a larger than usual orchestra, were well-shaped and each note carefully place.
Easter themed pieces across the UK on show this holy weekend to help you discover your religion or at least ponder it.
The Bible: An eagerly awaited recital of the King James Bible in its entirety. In celebration of the renowned publication’s 400th anniversary, the Globe Theatre is presenting a reading across 12 sessions in celebration of the oral tradition. A group of actors is to present the text, which was originally commissioned my King James I, in full; taking in total nearly 70 hours of recitation. One is not expected to sit throughout each session as late and readmission is allowed. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate this Easter than experiencing this epic text come to life. A review will soon follow.
Barbican Centre, London
Italian theatre practitioner Romeo Castellucci will be presenting this religious themed, if controversial, piece over the Easter weekend. Before the backdrop of a renaissance image of Christ, Castelluci is to explore the concept of Jesus as icon. Castelluci is well-known for his perfectionism, in fact just a few weeks ago he cancelled the planned show at the Barbican, an adaptation of Hawthorne’s The Minister’s Black Veil, because he did not think it was yet ready for an audience. A follower of the Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, it will be interesting to see how this emerges in Castellucci’s discussion of Jesus Christ. Should you be more interested in the theological, self-flagellation side of this holiday, than this is the piece for you.
Part of the London Word Festival and Co-curated by the Henningham Family Press, are throwing their own celebration for the 400th birthday of the King James Bible. The book is to be explored through various artistic mediums including literature, art, film, and music in an evening of performance. From the Garden of Eden to Noah’s Ark, expect a lively theological debate to take place.
Port Talbon, Wales,
What better place than a non-stop three-day theatrical event to have a religious experience! Michael Sheen in association with National Theatre Wales is to produce this play across his home town, involving hundreds of volunteers as well as a dozen or so professional actors. Sheen recalls: “I first saw the Passion Play at Port Talbot when I was about 12. It was a story I knew coming to life in front of me. A ritual taking place before me. A town remembering itself through a story.”