Reviewed by Cameron Woodhead Published: June 11, 2012 – 3:25PM
Chamber Made Opera & Rawcus Malthouse Theatre, until June 11
ANOTHER Lament was created for Chamber Made’s “Living Room Opera” series – short works performed in people’s houses. Its transfer to the Malthouse as part of the Opera XS program attempts to recreate an opulent domestic vibe.
While the design can’t really emulate the original context of the work, I suspect this delightful show could be performed in a dungeon and retain its flavour.
Another Lament merges improvised physical performance with songs by Henry Purcell. The composer more or less invented English Baroque music, and his work isn’t renowned for the delicacy of its ornamentation as much as the haunting intensity of its melodic line. This could be as dramatic as growing crystals, but director Kate Sulan puts pressure on Purcell’s emotional polarity. Baroque strictures, embodied in the set’s domestic spaces, yield to contemporary playfulness.
Vocalist and double-bass player Ida Duelund Hansen delivers the elegiac anticipation of When I am laid in earth … to the summit of obsession, before laying down her instrument and playing it with a tea-cup. Dream-like sequences take up the theme of Purcell’s own early demise. The music and action become frenetic. Moments of separation, desperation and reunion bleed into one another. The double-bass takes a beating. Hansen’s vocals depart baroque orderliness for discordant clowning, in comic scenes of unrequited love.
Another Lament is beautiful and beguiling theatre, buoyed by the rigorous conception and concentrated presence that distinguishes Rawcus’ work.