Found and Lost review at Corinthia Hotel, London – ‘a triumph of marketing’
Composer Emily Hall describes her site-specific, immersive work as an opera installation. In groups of a dozen the audience is guided around London’s vast and luxurious Corinthia Hotel, where a narrative involving a man and woman having an affair (played by Jesse Raiment and Tony Comley) is obliquely told. He is a CEO, she his mistress; they meet in Room 226, where eventually a crime is committed.
It’s a small narrative that is surely deliberately not given a higher profile in a piece of theatre whose real star is the hotel itself. From the reception area, we move through the lobby, the Massimo restaurant, the flower shop, a business suite, even the boiler room.
On the way, we coincide with the hotel’s real staff and its guests – some of the latter looking slightly bemused to find an opera taking place where they might have imagined themselves having no more than a quiet meal.
Hall’s style has been described as a blend of classical and indie. The texts she sets have been developed by Matthew Welton from those found in the hotel – on menu cards, as instructions for a member of staff to check that a room is ready for occupation, information for checking a faulty boiler, lists of flowers, and so on.
They’re set in a distanced, easy-on-the-ear manner that at times comes close to ambient music in the accompaniments. The solo singers and most of the instrumentalists are pre-recorded: cellist Oliver Coates and a small chorus made up of members of the choir Siglo de Oro are live.
The result is pleasant and intriguing as a walk-around experience, even though it feels artistically slight. But as a marketing exercise for a business that has made a feature of having an artist-in-residence – Hall is the fourth – it’s surely rather brilliant.