Robert Eichert is the latest recruit to the SCTF panel of writers. He attended the recent premiere of Thelma, and writes:
World Première of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Opera, Thelma (or The Amulet)
Over four hundred people, including the mayor, local MP and descendants of the composer, braved the freezing weather to attend Croydon’s Ashcroft Theatre on the 9th of February for Surrey Opera’s eagerly anticipated world première of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s opera, Thelma.
Catherine Carr’s pre-performance talk covered her rediscovery of the Thelma manuscript at the British Library and furnished useful additional background. During the question and answer session it emerged that an audience member had been present at one of the staged productions of Hiawatha in the 1930’s.
Following Catherine’s discovery, work still had to be done by the talented team at Surrey Opera to prepare Thelma for performance, notably the transcription of the original manuscripts and the adaptation of the libretto. The plot of Thelma was relatively uncomplicated to follow with the ample programme notes and surtitles to assist.
The excellent orchestra was conducted with flair by Jonathan Butcher. The minimalist set and lighting was highly effective and enhanced the mood. Indeed, the mist from the soldiers’ encampment in the first act wafted through the orchestra and reached some of the audience. The costumes looked the part, especially those of the undersea dwellers, the Necks, with their shell hats and seaweed robes that looked as if they had been shredded in the dreaded Maelstrom.
In keeping with Coleridge-Taylor’s other works, the music was rich in melody. There were several good solos and duets and one moving piece sung by the four lead characters. The choir and principals performed well. The audience gave more applause at the end for their favourite characters. But the music was the real winner.
All in all, Thelma was a splendid collaborative effort. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s home town did him proud.
Other reviews of the premiere of Thelma, finally performed on 9-11 February 2012. If you know of other reviews of Thelma, please do tell us via the Comments box below. Thank you!
The Guardian (Andrew Clements): http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/feb/10/thelma-review
Sierra Express: http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/35002