Vivienne – new chamber opera


mcneffA new one act opera for mezzo soprano and piano about T S Eliot’s ‘mad’ wife, Vivienne

 

Reviews

Evening Standard *****
McNeff delivers an unpredictable yet instantly appealing score. The story unwraps in songs that always hint at popular idiom — crunchy bebop infuses her late-Forties mourning, Berlin-style cabaret hints at Eliot’s possible Fascist sympathies — but their structure is elastic and mutable. You enjoy the tune but never quite catch it. Kieron Quirke

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The New Statesman
This year, Tête à Tête has found a treasure in Vivienne – a monologue-opera for mezzo and piano by Stephen McNeff. Andy Rashleigh’s witty and endlessly allusive libretto gives Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot (the first wife of T S Eliot) a voice beyond her husband’s verse, trying on musical styles and dramatis personae for size and incorporating these into a sung, solo monologue – like Eliot’s Waste Land does in verse. The work was elegantly performed by Clare McCaldin and the pianist Elizabeth Burgess, and deserves a rich concert life after this .  Alexandra Coghlan

One Stop Arts ****
Stephen McNeff’s score has much of the same pastiche and multi-voiced confusion of Eliot’s poetry… with threads of music hall tunes, jazz and Tin Pan Alley almost sneakily strung together in a score that is tuneful yet changeable enough to avoid predictability. Kate Mason

Planet Hugill
McNeff’s music never put a foot wrong, fluidly moving from evocations of dance music to darker flashes, keeping the form fluid and flexible. The work keeps a certain light tone, partly from the music hall references and partly as an evocation of the character of Vivienne herself. McNeff and McCaldin have succeeded in giving voice to one of the silent voices of history. Robert Hugill

CheyneyK writes in the blog Notes from performing and visual arts 

Audio Excerpts

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Full details of the opera and forthcoming performances at McCaldin Arts

More Photos
Clare McCaldin in performance as Vivienne at Tȇte à Tête: the Opera Festival 2013 – click here for a set of photos by Claire Shovelton

 

 

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