The Trinity Boys’ Choir has been receiving rave reviews again, this time on stage with the English National Opera. BELLA BARTOCK, our arts correspondent, used her freedom pass to go ‘up West’
It is a sign of Trinity School’s decades-long excellence in choral music that it can provide all the 20 members for what is a demanding start-to-finish chorus role in Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream currently being performed in the West End’s largest auditorium, The Coliseum.
With such a large place to fill, the boys seemed peculiarly underpowered. Perhaps that was the director’s guidance for them in their role as a Chorus of Fairies. The discipline of co-ordinated moves across the stage, with an ambitious set that required the chorus’ key involvement in stage management as well as in artistic effect, was there most of the time.
Certainly when it came to timbre the boys were part of an exquisite performance with Soraya Mafi as Tytania and Christopher Ainslie as Oberon in the third act.
Mafi, an ENO Harewood Artist, was the stand out soloist on the night.
It is, though, the staging of the production that is the real star of the show.
Dominant verdant green with white contrast, vibrant blue and a dash of red is the theme, with the Trinity boys thus attired. They also play a key on-stage hands-on role in turning down a whole stage bed of eponymous dreams and in setting up a spectacular lifting of all the props from stage to re-enter the world of bright super white light reality of the actual royal court.
For those who might have endured the 2011 Alden ENO production, based in a seedy 1950s boys’ school, will be pleased to know that for 2018, it is the previous Carden production template that is used.
Sometimes Coliseum audiences over-laugh at modest jokes, as has been heard in the current co-running Iolanthe. The mock performance by the rustics at court has its occasional moments of modest mirth but it is depressing really that both Shakespeare and Britten should have indulged so much in making fun of working class performers.
More enjoyable was the earlier Second Act’s Joshua Bloom donkey braying references as Bottom, brays that are well woven into the operatic tone.
The production is above average for a company that has managed in recent years to mangle so many classics from La Traviata (sadly reheated for audience disappointment this season) downwards.
- The Dream continues at the Coliseum tonight and on March 10, 14 and 15. Tickets available from £12 (plus booking fee). There are 500 tickets at every performance at £20 or less.
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