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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

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Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Jumping the shark: Idomeno @RoyalOperaHouse

Shark and the chorus of Idomeneo in Martin Kušej’s production of Idomeneo © ROH.Catherine Ashmore 2014 There is some fine music making in the current Royal Opera production of Idomeneo. It is such a pity that the production is sunk by Martin Kušej's heavy-handed interpretation of regime change.

Perhaps in another production it would be a stylish addition, but a giant rubber shark representing a sea serpent from Neptune highlighted the worst excesses of this nonsensical production.

Rubber sharks, concrete walls spattered with blood and overacting extras carrying guns and wearing cheap sunglasses all becomes a bit too distracting for this early opera. Crete has never looked more unrecognisable. Audiences were not impressed either with the creative team resoundingly booed on opening night.
Still the singing was for the most part pretty good. Matthew Polenzani as Idomeneo sounds secure in his arias. Sophie Bevan as the Trojan Princess had a strong vocal presence. Malin Byström as Elettra was also equally strong and seductive. Counter-tenor Franco Fagioli as Idamante, Idomeneo's son appeared to struggle at first with his vocals but became more assured as the evening wore on.

Stylish and odd. This production highlights that all the elements need to come together to make a great opera production.

The production runs at various dates through to November 24.

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Photos by Catherine Ashmore

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