The Organ


Glyndebourne Festival Opera
18th August 2005

This was the third time I had seen Jonathan Dove's Flight and I am delighted to say that not only does it continue to convince but it seems to get better the more I know it. The recently released CDs certainly help as one can become far more familiar with the text than is possible in the opera house. Though the text carries well in the theatre - a tribute to Dove's writing - there are considerable sections where characters sing against each other, or in ensemble. Even surtitles could not help at this point and April de Angelis' libretto is good enough to warrant closer inspection and understanding. Where first impressions may lull one into a false sense of naturalism, Richard Jones' production is anything but. Daily news items on passengers abandoned in airport 'lounges' quickly make us realise that this is no ordinary airport. It is closer to limbo or a gentle sort of purgatory where characters have a chance to work through their emotional problems. If this implies a deadening seriousness then the production is far from that, highlighting the humour without ever overplaying its hand. But in the long run it is the sense that physically nothing has changed, yet for each of the individuals involved everything is now different.

The Refugee remains a refugee, stuck in the no-mans-land of the airport, but now his solitariness is eased by his blossoming relationship with the Controller. Just who is the Controller? Is she God, or as fallible as the rest of the humans below? She needs to relate as desperately as they do.

Lawrence Zazzo and Laura Aikin, new to the cast as Refugee and Controller, are both vulnerable though it takes time for this to show through. Anne Mason returns as Minskwoman, giving birth with fairytale ease, and Mary Plazas repeats her slightly neurotic Tina. But it is the sense of ensemble which carries the work through and it is superbly supported from the pit by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Richard Farnes.

Catch it if you can on 24 and 27 August. No sign of it being recorded for DVD at present - a pity as there are far too few new operas as worthy as this one.