I played safe on my second visit to the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2014 and did not book one of the early performances due to the London walk that I had in the afternoon. That proved to be a sensible choice as even though that walk finished unexpectedly on time at 6pm it was good to have some down-time to rest, eat and chat before making the short journey north to Central Saint Martins.
I arrived there in good time to grab another beer, I had had a few in the afternoon, before settling in to see the two operas that I had booked.
Gut was performed in the White Lab, the smallest of the three rooms used and the hardest to find. The organisers were aware of that and had guides along the way to keep us moving in the right direction.
The White Lab was intended for multi-media use with its white walls for projecting on to and I presume that is why it was chosen.
Gut consisted of a film, recorded music and a baritone. The film was mostly of the seashore with crashing waves and tall cliffs. The music was dense and varied, there were hints of Glass early on and later a tune that could have been Portishead. The baritone voice rode clearly above them both and was the dominant feature.
This was just the first movement of a three-movement piece dealing with depression. It was also the darkest movement and the composer, Pete M Wyer, assured us that there was a happier ending. It was a difficult piece to appreciate on a first hearing but there were themes and hooks in there to make it a rewarding experience despite the challenges.
they came back, in the slightly larger Studio was also on a dark theme and told by a baritone and so went well with the previous piece.
They that came back were the dead though they only did so fleetingly.
A middle-aged man tried to come to terms with this and had a particular loss who we wanted to speak to again. He was a somewhat tortured soul and the music and singing reflected this. Again the singing was very good.
The story-telling was assisted by some short film clips of TV reportage. I felt that worked well as it both progressed the story and gave us another voice to listen to. It was a complete story too which made the performance easy to get in to.
Apart from the two fine operas there were the usual extras that make Tête-à-Tête Opera Festivals so much fun, things like talking to some of the performers, helpers and other visitors and having the time, space and refreshment to relax between shows. I also managed to catch one of the five minute pop-up operas given outside.
It was another good day in the office for Tête-à-Tête in their mission to promote exciting new opera.