The Silver Lake is very well performed by a well-chosen English Touring Opera cast, and, at two-and-a quarter hours, doesn’t outstay its welcome
The Silver Lake
English Touring Opera
Hackney Empire, London Touring until November 15
Kurt Weill’s short life – 1900-1950 – was a game of two halves: first as the outstanding composer of the Weimar Republic, and subsequently in exile in the US, an accomplished composer of Broadway musicals.
His music is always accessible but never simplistic. He wrote great songs such as Mack The Knife (from The Threepenny Opera) for Berlin, and standards like September Song for Broadway, all showing how consistently his talent was employed throughout his career.
The Silver Lake, part of Weill’s decade-long collaboration with the playwright Georg Kaiser, was simultaneously premiered in three German cities in 1933, and almost immediately suppressed by the Nazis.
Clarissa Meek is first class as housekeeper Frau Luber, and Ronald Samm (above) is a touching Olim, the former police officer who devotes his life to Severin, having originally shot him
Deemed ‘degenerate’, it disappeared and has been rarely heard since. But it too is both tuneful and intelligent, which explains its appeal to English Touring Opera’s James Conway.
It’s a true singspiel (‘play-with-singing’), defined by Weill as an entertainment ‘where the drama justifies its right to existence in spite of the clear dominance of the music’.
For those on ETO’s tour route, don’t be put off by the fact that this is an unknown piece; as I have explained, there are compelling historical reasons for that.
The Silver Lake is very well performed by a well-chosen ETO cast, and, at two-and- a-quarter hours, doesn’t outstay its welcome. Luci Briginshaw, as young Fennimore, stands out as a singer to watch.
She is well partnered by the imposing figure of David Webb as her stricken employer, Severin. Clarissa Meek is first class as housekeeper Frau Luber, and Ronald Samm is a touching Olim, the former police officer who devotes his life to Severin, having originally shot him.
The conductor, James Holmes, is a Weill specialist who inspires the orchestra to give a performance so compelling that I am spending this weekend listening to more Weill on the basis that he really is unfairly neglected.
Can I say more? Catch it if you can.
Gluck Orfeo Ed Euridice Out now
With Berlioz’s anachronistic 1859 version of Gluck’s masterpiece in London at the moment, it’s a happy chance that brings along this superb 88-minute live recording of the original 1762 score, captured at St John’s Smith Square in May 2018, which comes with excellent notes.
Iestyn Davies is on sparkling form as Orfeo, as are Sophie Bevan as Euridice and Rebecca Bottone as Amore. David Bates and his orchestra offer accomplished support
Iestyn Davies is on sparkling form as Orfeo, as are Sophie Bevan as Euridice and Rebecca Bottone as Amore.
David Bates and his orchestra offer accomplished support.