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The Little Green Swallow review at Guildhall School of Music and Drama London

Jonathan Dove is one of our most prolific stage composers and his 1993 opera, originally written in Italian for the Batignano Festival, certainly deserved a UK production. Its source is an 18th century play by Carlo Gozzi, whose fairytale world also inspired Turandot and The Love for Three Oranges. Indeed, the story is a sequel to Prokofiev’s brilliant comedy.

Anyone who knows Dove’s more recent opera Flight will be familiar with the style of this piece, which is influenced by John Adams and Stephen Sondheim. It is an agreeable blend and Dove’s orchestration for 13-piece ensemble is immaculate but his pacing is uncertain. There is a good deal of plot to get through before the happy ending, and the three acts feel long, with some of the ideas being too often repeated.

Still, it provides opportunities for a large and busy cast, though it is unclear where the action of Martin Lloyd-Evans’s production takes place – the storeroom basement of a museum, perhaps, in Dick Bird’s set.

It is an ensemble piece, with no real standouts, though everyone undertakes his or her role with credit, except in respect of diction, which is poor. This is an absolutely vital skill for students, whatever language they’re singing in – English on this occasion.

The best element of the evening is the confident playing of the band under the always assured baton of Dominic Wheeler.

Production Information

Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, June 2, 4, 6, 8

Jonathan Dove
Martin Lloyd-Evans
Guildhall School Opera Course
Cast includes
Oliver Kuusik, Javier Borda, Joana Seara, John Llewelyn Evans, Eyjolfur Eyjolfsson
Running time