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Il Trittico (Il Tabarro/Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi)

Il Trittico. Photo: Tristram Kenton Il Trittico. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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It is brave of Opera Holland Park to tackle a triptych so demanding of resources human and material. The cast is large (even with smaller parts doubled) and the intended locales – a Parisian quayside, a 17th-century convent and a medieval bedroom – might have been chosen to underline the limitations of OHP’s performance space.

The absence of a pit can be a problem too. Stuart Stratford conducts the City of London Sinfonia with expansive sensitivity yet his singers are not always audible in Il Tabarro, even without the noises off typical of this semi-outdoor venue. A giant barge straddles the stage and ‏Stephen Gadd is a powerful Michele but with the action taking place in broad daylight, the team has not found a way to create a convincingly oppressive atmosphere.

Dusk falls and the remaining operas play out more effectively against the same set of bare grey arches and walls, variously accessorised. Suor Angelica is notable for the searing psychological plausibility of its central confrontation between the wary Aunt of crimson-clad veteran Rosalind Plowright and the drab, diminutive, increasingly hysterical heroine (Anne Sophie Duprels). The senior nuns may be the real villains: director Oliver Platts sets the action in the convent laundry.

The 1940s makeover of Gianni Schicchi is not new, having been seen first in 2012. Anna Patalong reprises her sweet-toned Lauretta with Richard Burkhard now dominating the stage in the title role. This is a self-consciously riotous production, its sometimes extraneous comic business tautly directed. While the mimed prelude is certainly too long, the closing ‘balcony scene’ provides respite and a modest coup de theatre.

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Verdict
A patchy evening, very capably conducted and with several star performances
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