English National Opera, Apr 2014
An important ENO commission, Thebans unites prize-winning British composer Julian Anderson and his librettist, the distinguished playwright Frank McGuinness. This compelling re-telling of Sophocles’ timeless Theban tragedies focuses on the fate of Oedipus and his daughter Antigone. Murder and incest, political ambition, love and loyalty, hatred and revenge drive everyone on a collision course which can only lead to catastrophe.
‘It's all helped by the exemplary staging with elegant sets and superb lighting. Everything is taut, sharp and focused, with performances to match.’
'Audi and designer Tom Pye have made a well delineated staging that serves its purpose, from forum-type space to fascist cabinet room to infertile grove. All is beautifully lit.'
'The ‘future’ set in the second act is the most successful, with its all black costume design, stark lighting and frightening use of projection.'
'This was a bold, innovative and really rather smart production which gripped from its opening moments until the last anguished pure note. Although unremittingly grim in style and content its simple inner purity and rational story telling brought this most familiar and yet unknown postmodern psychological story back to its simple Greek roots and allowed us to feel the raw emotion at its root.'
'Thebans has the makings of a modern classic. Julian Anderson’s much anticipated first opera, which received its world première at English National Opera on Saturday, is both epic and restrained, traditional and cutting-edge, hard-hitting and subtle.'
'Anderson’s characteristically glowing musical textures – shifting soundscapes lively with colour and texture – take on a harder edge here.'