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Agreed review at Glyndebourne – ‘community opera proves worthwhile’

Cast and chorus of Agreed. Photo: Robert Workman Cast and chorus of Agreed. Photo: Robert Workman
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Every couple of years Glyndebourne stages a new work involving its youth wing and other non-professionals, who combine with professional principals, band (here the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment), conductor and production team.

The latest is the work of the experienced Howard Moody, here collaborating with his director daughter Anna as librettist.

The story describes the results of the division of the fictional country Orientis, whereby leader Alex sends anyone not born there – including his mother, Maya – away to Aquila. But he cannot prevent his own child Elin from falling in love with the Aquilian Korimako – with tragic consequences.

With Anna Moody’s synopsis containing the following reference to the divided peoples: “Where before they had been allowed to move freely between the two places, now they are cut off forever”, it’s hard not to feel that someone has Brexit in mind.

Be that as it may, too many individual lines are opaque in meaning and the overall narrative elusive.

The score has genuine merits – the use of African instruments such as the kora (played by Sura Susso) and udu (Buster Birch) as part of a four-piece onstage ensemble is entrancing, but in this mixed-style piece (classical, jazz, world, and more), mixed quality is also evident. Overall there’s too much slow-tempo music and each half is too long.

But there’s no question that the 75-strong community chorus, with its high quotient of young performers, delivers its collective role with enthusiastic conviction.

Soloists are impressive, too, skilfully directed in a simple but effectively designed production that does the job perfectly.

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Despite a fuzzy narrative and an uneven score, this community opera proves worthwhile