Thursday, 17 May 2012

Midnight Son, Victorian Opera, May 16, 2012, ***1/2

Music by Gordon Kerry, Libretto by Louis Nowra, by Victorian Opera
Merlyn Theatre,  Malthouse, May 16 to 23, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***1/2 
Byron Watson & Antoinette Halloran in Midnight Son, pic by Jeff Busby
IF YOU THINK THAT OPERAS ARE ALL CORSETS, consumption, Parisian garrets or Italianate palazzos, think again. Midnight Son is a contemporary, Australian opera set in the Melbourne suburbs and inspired by the real events of Maria Korp’s murder that shocked the city.

Although some may consider as tasteless using this story as entertainment, Louis Nowra’s crisp, concise, black and satirical libretto (sung in English with surtitles) and Gordon Kerry’s evocative music explore the murky world of a love triangle that triggers obsessive passion, manipulation, loss of control and murder. Sound like an Italian opera now? Or perhaps a soap opera?

Handsome baritone, Byron Watson, sings with conviction and rich tones, the role of arrogant, demanding, promiscuous but charismatic Ray Clark, whose wife, Marisa, (Antoinette Halloran) is strangled and whose lover, Clara, (Dimity Shepherd) is jailed for her murder.

This confronting story unfolds in reverse through Ray’s memories and we witness how his life spirals into catastrophe from end to beginning.

Kerry’s challenging score, employing multiple styles and musical allusions, is conducted deftly by Ollivier-Philippe CunĂ©o and played with fervour by Orchestra Victoria.

Nicki Wendt’s acting direction focuses the singers on their characters, relationships, emotions and psychology.

Halloran’s bright soprano captures a vibrating sense of doom and vulnerability while Watson’s resonant baritone brings gravitas to the role of Ray.

Mezzo-soprano, Shepherd, brings vocal warmth and colour to the role of Clara, the sassy, manipulated, but murderous lover.

Our discomfort is heightened because the original event occurred in the streets of Melbourne so our senses vibrate with the immediacy of the characters and story.

The shock of ordinary people hurtling into chaos is sharpened when set against a backdrop of a real, suburban rolladoor, a small sedan, a barbecue and a bright orange rope noose hanging over Ray’s head.

Louis Nowra loves a collision between the grotesque and the comical and Midnight Son peers into a disturbing world of murder and mayhem that is vividly coloured by grim satire, contemporary music and a naturalistic story and lyrics.

By Kate Herbert

Antoinette Halloran
Byron Watson
Dimity Shepherd
Jonathan Bode
Roxane Hislop

Set design:  Andrew Bellchambers 
Costume: Esther Marie Hayes 
Lighting: Nigel Levings 

1 comment:

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