This year’s fall opera production from the Glenn Gould School is John Blow’s 1683(?) masque Venus and Adonis. For those not familiar with the genre the masque was a court entertainment combining music, dance, poetry and drama. Here the framing story is the brief love affair between Venus and handsome young Adonis who is unfortunately gored to death by a boar. The main sub plot concerns Venus giving sage advice to Cupid and his band of little cupids. In between there are hunting choruses, dance and extracts from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Jonathan Dove’s 1994 one act opera Siren Song is a twisted little piece and very enjoyable. Apparently it’s based on a true story which just makes it weirder. Its the mid 1980s. Davey Palmer is an Able Seaman on HMS Ark Royal. He answers an ad in Navy News from a young woman, Diana, seeking a pen pal. Diana is a model and the relationship gets quite steamy but somehow whenever Davey gets shore leave there is some reason why Diana can’t meet him. Soon Diana’s brother Jonathan is showing up to make the excuses. Diana has throat cancer and can’t make phone calls and on it goes until the nature of the phone calls between Davey and Jonathan leads the MOD police to investigate a possible homosexual relationship. Surprise! There is no Diana and Jonathan is a con man. It’s very cleverly constructed with Diana appearing as a character though, we realise eventually, only in Davey’s imagination and the the pacing is such that our suspicion builds rather than the denouement being a huge surprise.
It’s always an interesting evening. It’s the first chance of the year to see what the Conservatory has to offer. The first thing I noticed was that the tenor famine seems to be over. There were four tenors on offer to two baritones. Just the one mezzo though and more sopranos than I could count.