As some may know from reading my other reviews, I am very fond of opera. Merlin was a new discovery for me, and I found the opera and this production interesting. In regard to the opera, the story was not the easiest to follow at times. However I very much enjoyed the music, there seems to be some homage to Wagner, but there is also the distinctive Albeniz touch.
As for this production, there is not very much to complain about. But there were a couple of problems that I had. The mostly-Spanish support cast was inconsistent, the singing was good, but some of the acting particularly from Kay is rather mechanical. Sir Ektor fared best of the Spaniards, while Stuart Skelton was good as Arthur and Carol Vaness solid if perhaps not the role I would normally associate her with.
My biggest problem here was Eva Marton. Now I have nothing against Marton, she is one of the better Turandots, Toscas and Elektras to me, and she is very good also as Elsa, La Gioconda and Frau(Die Frau Ohne Schatten). However a lot of what I like about Marton didn't work for me here. Her voice now has a very unpleasant wobble and makes her pitch questionable, more flat than sharp. Dramatically, not only is it often unsubtle- particularly in the facial expressions, disappointing seeing as Marton's Elsa is really quite subtle indeed- but it is very stand-and-deliver and disengaged.
Thank goodness for David Wilson-Johnson, who is just splendid as Merlin, strong and noble vocally, and quite commanding on stage. The orchestra and conducting are excellent too, the staging is imaginative and the production is wonderful to look at with its beautiful and surreal images, well tailored costumes, atmospheric lighting and sets, clear picture quality(and sound) and interesting camera work.
Overall, not an entire success, but it is definitely interesting and worth watching. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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