'Insanely' good reviews for Mad King Suibhne - Bury Court Opera's first commission


Opera Magazine, April 2017

"...Mad King Suibhne, by Noah Mosley...Ivo Mosley's succinctly poetic libretto for Suibhne (pronounced Sweeney) draws on a medieval Irish narrative.  The King, driven mad when he kills an old friend in battle, goes walkabout for several years.  Watched over by a benign witch, he has a number of adventures before returning, Ulysses-like, to his faithful wife Eorann.  The opera is by nature episodic, but could have made still more of the relationship between Suibhne and Eorann, which engendered the most poignant and memorable music.  Having opened with modernist spikiness from a peripatetic flautist and bass clarinettist, the score favoured tonality; Mosley, who clearly has a gift for melody, made some explicitly Celtic gestures and ended with a celebratory quasi-waltz.  If things occasionally veered towards a TV soundtrack, the craftsmanship was always sensitive and the orchestration skilful (the composer himself was conducting), and the six singers, each vocally distinctive, were given lines they could really bring to life.       In the tittle role, the baritone Dominic Bowe sustained strength and richness while careering and climbing around the stage; as his wife, Isolde Roxby carried her swooping phrases on lush tone, and a second soprano, Raphaela Papadakis (the seductive Woman at Well and the scheming Lady), was captivatingly lithe and vital.  For all its opulence, Laura Woods's mezzo witch remained clearly defined, while an exciting generator buzz drove Edward Hughes's tenor; both he and the bass Henry Grant Kerswell, energetically sonorous, took three roles, and a chorus of six female spirits interjected to arresting and other-worldly effect.  Ella Marchment's production, in Holly Pigott's simple but atmospheric and versatile decor, had a lot of ground - and some water and air - to cover, but it did so fluently, inventively and with both pathos and humour."

Opera Magazine, May 2017
  Yehuda Shapiro

Planet Hugill

"Ella Marchment’s production helped by providing a richly imaginative but non-specific setting which allowed us to concentrate on Suibhne. Marchment and her designer, Holly Piggott, cleverly got over the problems of Suibhne’s ability to fly by making ladders a feature of the multi-level set, cleverly manipulated by the chorus. It is to Noah Mosley [composer and conductor] and Ella Marchment’s credit that the audience was held spellbound for 90 minutes and applauded enthusiastically afterwards.

 Planet Hugill,  Robert Hugill.  
To read the full review, click this link http://www.planethugill.com/search?q=Mad+King+Suibhne


Music OMH

"In Ella Marchment’s extremely innovative production good use is made of the barn setting. Looking at the venue lengthways the central stage lies virtually in the middle. In front of it is the audience on tiered seating, and behind it is a raised platform that stretches so far back that the ensemble of forest spirits can look otherworldly because they stand such a long way away. Ladders join the lower and upper levels but also create the drama’s central infrastructure as they are raised and carried around by the spirits. The various formations they are placed in introduce drama, dynamism and visual interest, and help to denote quick changes of setting as Suibhne and the Witch leap through the trees. They also, however, signify so much more including the creation, or closing off, of various paths (courses of action) to Suibhne.

Mosley’s score seems grounded in the Irish folk tradition. The sheer variety of music on display, however, reminds us how wrong it is to see that tradition as one single entity and, like its inspirations, the music can convey melancholy and yearning alongside joy, wonder and a sense of the beauty of nature. Its multifaceted character is illustrated by the fact that Suibhne’s half-brother can be bellowing at him that he has no heart even as the music is also proving suitable for the spirits to sway the ladders to.

The cast of young singers proves extremely strong. In the title role Dominic Bowe reveals a brilliantly firm and accurate baritone that is capable of revealing both immense power and exceptional sensitivity. Laura Woods as the Witch reveals a highly developed mezzo-soprano, while the soprano of Isolde Roxby as Queen Eorann is characterised by beauteous tone. Raphaela Papadakis is highly engaging as the Woman at Well and Lady, Edward Hughes reveals an excellent tenor as Ailill and Gauire, and Harry Grant Kerswell displays a strong and assertive bass as Suibhne’s half-brother Lynschechan and the Mad Man."

Music OMH,  Sam Smith.  To read the full review click this link  https://www.musicomh.com/classical/reviews-classical/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.musicomh.com%2Fclassical%2Freviews-classical%2Fmad-king-suibhne-lospedale-bury-court-opera-bentley#BHFczl11aCOmifRl.99



Farnham Herald

"Few young composers get the chance to create a new opera and Bury Court's commendable faith in up coming talent was rewarded by this production, which was very well received...the intimacy of the Barn venue and its wonderful acoustic added to the enjoyment of a magical night of opera."

Farnham Herald, Angie Owens