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The Rambler :: blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Gerald Barry: The Bitter Tears of Petra Kant 

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Gerald Barry's new opera, The Bitter Tears of Petra Kant has been causing one heck of stir, featuring as it does that unbeatable combo of lesbianism, a giant purple kangaroo, and uncompromising music. For reasons of wallet and being out of the country all of next week I don't think I'm going to get to see it (although there are two shows left when I get back, so we'll see), but there is plenty of comment to tuck into nevertheless:

Independent: "'Do you like this kind of music?' asks Petra von Kant, who, inevitably, gets the evening's most knowing laugh. Gerald Barry's unhinged sound and fury is an acquired taste, but its singular mix of basic materials and extreme treatment, concise wit and ruthless logic, can grow alarmingly addictive."

Times: "the cumulative effect was strangely gripping. You began to find your way back into this bizarre world, bizarrely painted. Barry’s music might put you through the wringer, but you feel a palpable exhilaration, and not just of the hair-shirt kind." [not a review, more a preview piece this one]

Telegraph: "a repellent opera, stuffed with cheap contempt, arty pretensions and hideous music."

Guardian: "one of the strangest but most satisfying of recent operas"

Londonist: "the chatty, anti-poetic words, the aimless melodies... this is an atonal, lesbian Umbrellas of Cherbourg!"

On balance I think the opera wins. Plus, bonus points to ENO for [part-] commissioning something tough, original, and apparently worthwhile from a genuine composer, unlike some other well-known London Opera Houses.


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