ENO’s departing music director Paul Daniel goes out on a high note with this involving revival of Berg’s masterpiece – opera’s most complex treatment of the femme fatale theme. The orchestra plays the difficult score marvellously and Daniel steers the piece along with authority.
Richard Jones’ 2002 production once again looks impressive, with an inventively created modern setting, top-drawer costumes from Buki Shiff and skilful lighting by Pat Collins. The work’s wide range of society and the complexity of the central characters and their relationships are fascinatingly drawn.
Leading the show in all senses is Lisa Saffer’s award-winning interpretation of Lulu herself, who draws the rest of the cast with her sexual magnetism and is eventually murdered by Jack the Ripper. Both vocally and physically, Saffer’s creation will long be recalled as near ideal.
Robert Hayward’s Dr Schon is solidly delivered, while Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts shows us the vulnerability of his besotted son, Alwa. Susan Parry gives a good account of Countess Geschwitz, Lulu’s most loving admirer, and Gwynne Howell is present and correct as the mysterious Schigolch. Further strong performances come from Anna Burford as the Schoolboy, and Graeme Danby, Robert Poulton, Alan Oke and Richard Coxon, all doubling or even tripling up in various roles.
A remarkable company achievement, then, adding up to much more than the sum of its parts, and a fine realisation of one of the most powerful of all operas.
Coliseum, London, April 18, 21, 29, May 5, 7, 10, 13
- Alban Berg
- Richard Jones
- English National Opera
- Cast includes
- Lisa Saffer, Robert Hayward, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, Susan Parry, Gwynne Howell
- Running time
- 3hrs 45mins