The blighted English weather has contrived to make last evening the very first occasion on which I have visited the new Garsington over the last two years on which there was neither rain nor menacing clouds. It was not exactly a perfect English early summer evening but the lovely place was at its near best - and the performance of Die Entführing was hugely enjoyable.
The dominating singer of the evening was, without question, Matthew Rose. This superb English bass, who spent his post graduate years at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, completely commanded the proceedings in a way that I have rarely seen in an Osmin - a performance to relish in all its dimensions and a great feather in Garsington's cap.
He was accompanied by an excellently chosen cast who entered into the innovative spirit of Daniel Slater's splendid production showing exceptional accomplishment as actorsa and singers. If I were to single out one of them it would have to be the hilarious performance of the cheeky chappy Pedrillo Mark Wilde whose singing in addition to the rest of his performance left absolutely nothing to be desired. He is a gem.
It was good to see William Lacey in charge musically - he is an Englishman who is something of a globetrotter but for the last three years has been solidly based in Germany.
Daniel Slater has done great work at Garsington. And his Entführung is another substantial achievement. He has taken some liberties with the musical text (in cahoots with William Lacey I assume) - and devised a brilliant polyglot new libretto which completely adheres to the spirit of the story, and provided wonderful entertainment, as well as unprecedented acting opportunities, for the talented cast. Having seen dozens of different approaches to this glorious underappreciated opera, I welcomed and enjoyed his decisions. To hell with the controversy - this is a true man of the theatre who is clearly also an intensely musical man.
The designer Francis O'Connor used the Garsington space with wit and skill - clever stuff!
If you get to Garsington early a pause in the garden with a glass of whatever refreshes you is a good preparation for the performance - assuming you have a lovely evening. Yesterday was one of those both on and off stage.