The spectacular career of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s first opera, Greek, has no parallel in this country since Britten’s Peter Grimes … without doubt the most significant new British opera in decades.
Mark-Anthony Turnage was only 25 years old when Hans Werner Henze commissioned him to write Greek for the Munich Biennale. From the moment it opened in 1988, it was clear that Greek was a ground-breaking piece and it quickly established itself as a contemporary classic. Within 18 months of its premiere, the opera was presented by the Edinburgh Festival, on BBC TV and by ENO and has since been seen across the world.
A quarter of a century later, this savage re-telling of the story of Oedipus relocated to a blighted East End remains shockingly relevant. This fully-staged new production by Music Theatre Wales doesn’t pull any punches – and Turnage himself has hailed it as ‘superb…amazingly powerful’.
This staged performance has a running time of circa 1 hour 50 minutes, including one 20 minute interval.
There will be a free pre-opera talk with Michael McCarthy at 6.15pm, open to all ticket holders.
Conductor: Michael Rafferty
Eddy: Marcus Farnsworth
Eddy’s Mum / Waitress / Sphinx: Sally Silver
Eddy’s Sister / Waitress who becomes Eddy’s Wife / Sphinx: Louise Winter
Eddy’s Dad / Café Manager / Chief of Police: Gwion Thomas
The Music Theatre Wales Ensemble
Director: Michael McCarthy
Designer: Simon Banham
Lighting Designer: Ace McCarron
Sound Design: Sound Intermedia
The enthusiastic applause the performance received was primarily a tribute to the force and brilliance of Mark Anthony Turnage’s incandescent score, blisteringly realised in a first-rate new production by Music Theatre Wales … Michael McCarthy’s staging is exemplary … the award-winning young baritone Marcus Farnsworth is electrifying … Admirable support is offered by Sally Silver, Louise Winter and Gwion Thomas doubling up in various roles, and there’s a crack orchestra cool-headedly conducted by Michael Rafferty.
The whole thing is done as a strip cartoon, with plenty of pow and zap but nothing to frighten the kids. Turnage’s Greek is a musical work par excellence: not exactly music drama – too much speech for that – but a work whose musicality suggests a stylisation which defuses the violence and reignites it as feeling. It’s one of the best things about Michael McCarthy’s new production for Music Theatre Wales at Brecon’s Theatr Brycheiniog that it draws on this quality specifically and places it centre stage.
There’s nothing complex about Music Theatre Wales’s new production: it’s sharp, direct and, of necessity, tragic. With the 18-piece ensemble hogging space behind, action is at the front of stage, an England flag draped on the podium. Eddy’s personal crusade is made vividly contemporary: football-driven, disaffection, London streets full of rubbish, musicians pounding baton shields … it’s a compliment to say it sometimes feels like an operatic Eastenders special – the Sphinx women sport Barbara Windsor wigs. The ketchup container proves iconic, and Turnage scores here.
Information No.0121 780 3333
Town Hall is accessible to wheelchair users and there are various positions where wheelchair users can be seated. Toilets accessible to wheelchair users are available on all Levels. Guide dogs are very welcome. Town Hall is equipped with an induction hearing loop. You will need to switch your hearing aid to the appropriate setting to make use of this system. There is generous leg-room between the rows in the Stalls. Access to the Stalls seats is up a small number of steps, or there is a lift or ramp if preferred. The Circle seats are located up one flight of stairs (a lift is available) but please note there are stairs inside the Auditorium in the Circle to access all rows except Row A. The main Bar, toilets and Cloakroom are on the level below the ground, down one flight of steps (a lift is available)