Date 16th February 2018
Society Bath Opera
Venue Hayesfield Road School, Bath
Type of Production Opera
Director Jane Clark
Musical Director Peter Blackwood


Author: Dee Way

While a fan of Janacek‚Äôs music, I was not familiar with this opera, so I had an open mind as to how well the opera worked.  I was interested to see how the staging of a full-scale opera could be adapted to the smaller space in a school theatre.

I was very impressed by the singing, the music and the inventive staging used for the production.  The working waterwheel in the background worked well in suggesting the setting at a glance.  The set was interesting, too, with the brick mill and the log cabin each side of the stage for Act 1, then moving inside the log cabin for Acts 2 and 3.  The sense of communal space was well created and well used in Act 1, while the effect of the half-screened bedroom in the house was very effective. The opening window and the large black stove in the house worked very well.  Furnishings were good and suitable to the set.

The story of the opera was very clearly told, with sensitivity, beautiful singing, good expression and body language and some good acting.  At times it was hard to hear the singing as the orchestral volume varied, but the overall effect was stunning.  The emotion of the piece came across very clearly and the diction of the lead singers was superb.  The chorus were very good in keeping a character and singing well, too.

The costumes were very good, adding to the effect of a country setting in Eastern Europe. The staging was inventive in using the three entrances to good effect.  Lighting was discreet and effective.  In all this was a very engaging evening of opera and a real pleasure to see and hear.  Congratulations!