Thursday, April 24, 2008


The story of the murderous Punch and his desire to possess Pretty Polly provides what might initially seem an unlikely scenario for Harrison Birtwistle’s controversial first opera, premiered at Aldeburgh in 1968. But what we think of as a children's fable is, of course, very dark and sinewy indeed. In its latest production at the Young Vic in London (running through to Saturday 27 April 2008) the opera it is directed by Daniel Kramer in the work’s 40th-anniversary year. Conducted by English National Opera Music Director Edward Gardner. I will be catching tomorrow night's performance. Watch videos of the production here. The reviews have been very positive.

Stephen Graham writes in Musical Criticism: "Punch and Judy remains profoundly unique to audiences because of its highly peculiar assertion of the applicability of horror, and of fairground surreality, to opera aesthetics. This production confidently reinvigorates every raw and revolting sinew of Birtwistle's marvellously decadent work that arises out of this marriage of aesthetics, and it manages to convey a new horror and snarl all of its own. For thrills and blood spills of a highly unusual character, look no further than this exciting new ENO production."

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