AntiMidas in the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin on Friday December 13th.
It’s rare that Ireland is treated to a brand new opera. However, in the midst of the dodgy interpretations of Mozart and Verdi comes a new work from composer Evangelia Rigaki (libretto by W. N. Herbert), AntiMidas.
With a small but effective set, and no fancy gimmicks, this is obviously a production on a budget. However, the set is effective in its minimalist nature, focusing all the drama onto the action. A screen onto which parts of the libretto is projected serves only as a functional tool for highlighting the direction of the plot and some of the harder to make out parts of the libretto.
The cast does well to carry the whole production, with only four singers making up the cast. A highlight comes in the form of tenor Tyrone Landau, who brings the character of AntiMidas to life. By far the most confident of his lines and character on the night, he brings a certain arrogance to the part of the wealthy banker, all with a fine tone and convincing acting. The drama is consistent through, however, at parts the spell is broken by a huge reliance on the conductor; at numerous points various soloists glance obviously (and continuously) over to conductor Lindy Tennent-Brown to gauge their position in the music and their entry points, suggesting an overall lack of confidence in their parts as well as a great unease with the music, being slightly harder to follow. Perhaps singers more established in contemporary music would have been more suitable here, but regardless the cast do a formidable job on portraying both the plot and the music well.
The music in itself is well put together, and well suited to the drama taking place. Suitably descriptive and atmospheric without being overbearing, it allows great space to the vocal lines. The small ensemble of musicians gathered to perform are well rehearsed and confident, giving a great sense of security to the orchestral lines.
As new operas go, there is certainly a lot to appreciate in AntiMidas. Witty, entertaining and current, it’s an unusual but apt take on the banking crisis in Ireland, and perhaps a poignant message to those bankers who brought around the downfall.
Photos courtesy of Paul Sharp.