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CD Review

Gerald Barry

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

  • Rayanne Dupuis, Petra von Kant
  • Mary Plazas, Karin Thimm
  • Stephanie Marshall, Sidonic von Grasenabb
  • Deirdre Cooling-Nolan, Valerie von Kant
  • Sylvia O'Brien, Gabriele von Kant
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra/Gerhard Markson
RTÉ CD 261

Gerald Barry's 3rd opera, to a play by Fassbinder (also a renowned film) is currently being staged at ENO in London, and will go down as one of the key operatic events of 2005. I rate Guinness and Gerald Barry as Ireland's leading contemporary products for connoisseurs!

RTÉ's recording of the concert première in May 2005 is a great success and it is good to have such a radical new opera on disc so soon. The cast, led by Rayanne Dupuis and Mary Plazas, is excellent. Balance with the wind-dominated orchestra is good and the words, delivered with astonishing rapidity for an opera, are as clear as is reasonably possible. It works well in Denis Calandra's English translation.

The text is supplied in good-sized clear print for comfortable home listening – without it you'd lose the drift from time to time and, importantly, the rapid cross-purposed exchanges which are one of the reasons Barry thought the play such a gift of a libretto.

The recording of Barry's visceral score sounds vivid and provides an opportunity to get this astonishing music into your system. The staged première at the Coliseum has the brilliant opera singer/actress Linda Kitchen riveting attention throughout and overshadowing everyone else in the mute part of the equivocal servant/slave/masochistic-lesbian-lover Marlene, so a DVD of this production is urgently needed.

Copyright © 2005, Peter Grahame Woolf