Composer Harrison Birtwistle
Libretto David Harsent
Director Stephen Langridge
Designer Alison Chitty
Lighting Paul Pyant
Choreography Philippe Giraudeau
Video Design Mark Grimmer
Associate Video Designer Lysander Ashton
Animation Joseph Pierce for 59 Productions
Royal Opera House
Covent Garden, February 18th 2013
Fifty Nine Productions has created the video design for this revival of Harrison Birtwistle's opera The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Directed by Stephen Langridge and designed by Alison Chitty, the opera runs until January 28th.
"The squeamish will need to look away, but The Minotaur's first revival, with all three main singers returning, confirms it as a work of extraordinary power. A week after the Royal Opera announced its lineup of premieres as far ahead as 2020, it's good to be reminded that when the company gets new opera right, it does so in style."
"The premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s ‘The Minotaur’ sent out shock-waves...Designer Alison Chitty’s sets had a rugged simplicity which sat perfectly with Birtwistle’s vision, creating a part-virtual bull-ring in which this subversively appealing creature could kill, dream, lament, and finally be killed.
Five years on, a revival allows us to reconsider those first impressions. And as the overture’s great surges of sound body forth the projection of sea-swell on the front-drop - with the percussion spilling into boxes on either side of the pit – one realises anew what an orchestral master Birtwistle is."
"Harrison Birtwistle’s opera The Minotaur, like the myth it is based on, reveals deeper truths on each re-hearing. When it was new in 2008 David Harsent’s richly poetic libretto and Birtwistle’s score already seemed a potent mix, but as this revival makes clear, closer acquaintance with its complexities rewards the listener."
"What made the evening, however, was designer Alison Chitty and director Stephen Langridge's staging. Quiet, economical, rite-like, the activities of the characters take place under collapsable heavens that open and shut like a puppet's mouth. One sky offers the hazy dawn of the Greek islands, sun and moon slowly jockeying for position. The other is the striated cave of the labyrinth. These Cy Twombly scratches are repeated - in blood - on the walls of the Minotaur's bullring. It was everything a set should be: a perfect blend of intelligence - of subtle engagement with and echoing of the ideas in the text - and aesthetics."
"Birtwistle’s score is characteristically abrasive, at times hitting home to devastating effect; yet elsewhere its hyper-tense lyricism is equally impressive. Wigglesworth conducts a performance that plumbs its sinister depths as well as rising to terrifying heights. It’s an outstanding achievement from all concerned."
"Birtwistle’s visceral piece has lost none of its immediacy since it first appeared at Covent Garden. In fact, although the shock value is as high in Stephen Langridge’s skilful production, the relationships between its major characters seem more intense, and the opera’s psychological message, while not exactly subtle, hits harder."
**** The Times
"First performed in 2008, Stephen Langridge's exemplary production of The Minotaur returned, with mostly the same cast and greater clarity and force. Alison Chitty's bullring-inspired designs, opening with video of a slow-churning black sea which also accompanies the orchestral interludes, called toccatas, retains its raw grandeur. Masked crowds, pinioned harpies – led by Elisabeth Meister – and a snake priestess on stilts (Andrew Watts) stamp their indelible mark on Birtwistle's mythical landscape, a place of fear and beauty."
"The Minotaur, given its premiere in 2008, is back at the Royal Opera House for its first revival. Awesome, forbidding, an opera of unremitting dark power, it is not an easy evening’s entertainment, but Birtwistle’s voice is so compelling, and the production so arresting, that the slowly unfolding drama never lets go....The opera looks good and sounds overwhelming."