9 March 2013

Imago at Glyndebourne

Imago is a community opera staged at Glyndebourne which means that is was on well before the festival season and the pricing was so friendly that I could afford a seat in the middle of the front row of the Circle, probably the best seat that I will ever have there.

I went simply because it was Glyndebourne and I trusted them to put on a good show, as they had in the two other off-festival operas that I had seen there.

Other than the Glyndebourne brand I had no idea of what to expect so it was all a surprise, and a jolly one it was too.

The story is fairly simple and uses a common sci-fi trope of people using technology to enter an alternative reality. Two of the characters form a relationship that impacts their lives in the real world.

There is a slow dark theme running through the opera on top of which bounces a series of jaunty songs that would not sound out of place in a light frippery musical. The combination works well as it delivers a story with a bite and a number of sing-along tunes.

The production made full use of the width and height of the stage and when the action is focused on one part of is, such as when two people are talking to each other, there were things happening on the other levels.

Sometimes these were images of the real world where we saw some of the people connected to Imago sitting quietly in their Imago headgear while their alter egos danced in the other realm.

The singing was as clear and as beautiful as you would expect from Glyndebourne making sur-titles irrelevant. My favourite singer was the care assistant who invented Imago and introduced the main players to it. His voice was crystal clear, gentle and easily carried over the Stalls to the Circle.

Imago is not the sort of opera that I am used to seeing at Glyndebourne, it seems more appropriate for Tete a Tete or Grimeborne (though both of these usually do short operas rather than full-length ones), and I wish they did more things like this. The music in Imago fizzed and skipped delightfully and was ably supported by the fresh staging and direction.

Imago was delightful in every respect. I would go and see it again tomorrow and would bring some friends with me. And that is the highest recommendation I can give.

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