Today I attended a full dress rehearsal of ‘Dorian Gray’ at the lovely old opera house in Bratislava. I wrote my libretto in 2009-11, visiting Bratislava twice to work with Lubica Cekovska, the young Slovakian composer who has written the score. When Lubica came to London in 2011, she had written a fair amount of the music already, and she played it for me then on her computer, via the music software Sibelius. (If you ever need to find an example of a realm where the digital is a pale imitation of the analogue, this is it: nothing can beat a live orchestra.)
Nothing can beat a live orchestra, and it’s not every day you hear a large cast of singers actually singing the words-what-I-wrote. I found it difficult not to feel overwhelmed from the moment the first notes began to play. The artistic team, lead by Nicola Raab directing, and Christopher Ward, conducting, are doing a wonderful job of creating a strong, clear, story-led production - the staging is dramatic and it changes accordingly as the story gets darker, grimmer, and more relentless. As Eamonn Mulhall, one of the two Dorians (the other is Eric Fennell - there are two casts) said during the press conference today, five people die in this story - it’s ‘very intense’.
It was a good decision to have the two Dorians, a tenor role, played by two native English speakers. Singing in opera in English is difficult, but the rest of the cast, mainly Slovakians, is handling it very well, thanks to the guidance provided by the young conductor, Christopher Ward. (Everyone working on this production is young, apart from yours truly… today I found myself described as ‘experienced’ - works for me).
I’ll post some pictures once I have time. The one of the big banner on the front of the opera house with my official Slovakian name, Kate Pullingerovej, emblazoned on it is especially good.
Here’s a nice piece about the production.