6 July 2016

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal? left me underwhelmed

I think 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal? was meant to be an opera, a clue was that it was produced by Tête à Tête but it felt more like an oratorio, or even a concept album.

It was though Tête à Tête that I heard about it. I am a big fan of theirs and have seen, and loved, many new an innovative operas at their Summer festivals.

This was a once-only performance and so I found myself in St James's in Piccadilly on a Wednesday evening, which is not a usual night out for me. I was pleased to be there as my only previous experience of the venue was witnessing some rehearsing for a concert when I was in the area to see something at the Jermyn Street Theatre.

St James's is a proper church and we sat in pews facing the small orchestra and medium sized choir at the front. I got a seat in the fourth row which gave me a decent view of proceedings.

Those proceedings did not start well. The music opened with some New Age ambient wailing and never really progressed from there. I struggled to think of musical similes during the performance and, not being a big fan of New Age music, the best I could come up with were things like Enya, Michael Quatro and Future Sound of London. Some of the bouncier sections had the sort of dance beats of a band like Royksopp so it was not all bad. One section also got dangerously close to Sting's Fields of Gold.

Being generous I would say that the music wore its influences on its sleeve. I can forgive that but I found it harder to forgive the structure of the piece that went nowhere and varied so little in mood, pace or texture.

The concept album feeling was reinforced by the spoken word excepts. Unfortunately this was New Age twaddle of the first order. I had never heard of "philosopher" Alan Watts before and with good reason, anybody who wrote silly things like, "If you happened once, you could happen again" fully deserves to be unknown.

Luckily there were some saving graces. The two soloists, Meeta Raval (soprano) and Oliver Gerrish (countertenor) had lovely and clear voices. And while I found the music unoriginal and unexciting it was pleasant enough at times.

Overall I suppose that the evening was OK, it's just that I was hoping for more than that.

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