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The Mines of Sulphur (Bennett) Wexford 2008 Packard Szabó Bellemer Goetz

Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO     

Information on the Performance
Information about the Recording
  • Published by: Michael Barker-Caven: Theatre & Opera Director  
  • Date Published: 2015  
  • Format: Unknown
  • Quality Video: 3 Audio:3
  • Subtitles: nosubs  
  • Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO

Quote Michael Barker-Caven:

Surely the most dramatic of British operas, it was my pleasure to direct this remarkable work for Wexford Festival Opera in 2008. As the Financial Times put it in a five star review, ‘Bennett’s immaculately crafted post-serial idiom, matched to a ripping yarn and a sharp libretto, gives us a hint of where the lyric theatre might profitably have ventured, before late 20th-century composers and opera houses turned their backs on each other’: indeed.

Bennett’s score is dangerously provocative, dramatically nuanced and jaw dropping in its intensity and daring. When teamed with Beverley Cross’s multilayered libretto (surely as gripping a play text as any opera has ever produced), it offered me the immense pleasure of staging what I treasure – a highly charged dramatic story immersed in the web of equally mesmeric music.

Synopsis from Wikipedia:
The opera is set in an old, decaying West Country manor house, in the mid-18th century. Rosalind has returned to the manor of Braxton, her master, where she had formerly been a servant and where Braxton had been treating her abusively. Boconnion, a military deserter wanted on charges of killing a man, and the tramp Tovey arrive. Boconnion, Tovey and Rosalind conspire to kill Braxton, and carry out this plan. The three steal Braxton’s riches and begin to celebrate their new wealth, planning to escape with it as well.

A group of itinerant actors then arrives at the manor. Boconnion agrees to give them shelter, in return for entertainment. The troupe bears a resemblance to actors who had visited the manor centuries earlier. The actors present their newest play, The Mines of Sulphur, about an elderly count who weds a beautiful girl, who falls in love with the count’s valet. The count threatens the lovers, and the girl urges the valet to kill the count. The play parallels the prior situation of Boconnion, Braxton and Rosalind. At the point just before the girl and the valet are about to kill the count, Boconnion halts the play. The actress Jenny (the wife in the play) faints, and Tooley takes her upstairs, where he discovers the murdered landowner. Boconnion imprisons the actors in the cellar and plans to set fire to the manor to get rid of them the next morning. Boconnion then kisses Jenny to taunt Rosalind, but then it is revealed that Jenny has the plague. A ballad from Jenny reaffirms a link between her troupe and the earlier actors. The actors then somehow have vanished from the locked cellar, and Jenny takes her leave. Rosalind, Boconnion and Tovey see that the manor door has the plague mark painted on it, and they stay in the manor, realizing that they are doomed.

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