O’Regan/Phillips open their “Heart” to praise at London premiere

November 11, 2011

"Superb": Alan Oke, right, as Marlow, with the "splendid" Sipho Fubesi, front left, in Tarik O'Regan's The Heart of Darkness. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

The maiden voyage into Heart of Darkness is complete! On November 1, the AOP-developed chamber opera from Tarik O’Regan and Tom Phillips premiered at London’s Royal Opera House in a co-production by ROH2 and Opera East. AOP Artistic Director Charles Jarden, Managing Director and Board President Bob Lee and several members of the AOP Board were there at the Linbury Studio Theater to see the creators take their bows with so much joy and pride that they barely noticed that they were up to their ankles in the set’s water-filled stage.

“This is a show that any opera company in the world would have been proud to present,” said Mr. Lee. “It’s been incredible to watch it grow through our public development process, from libretto to premiere. AOP does really provide something to opera audiences that they can’t get anywhere else – witnessing the creation of a work of art from beginning to end.”

Across the pond here at the AOP office, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive response from audience and critics alike. Stephen Pritchard from The Guardian/Observer UK  in particular gave an incredible rave:

Workshopped by OperaGenesis and American Opera Projects, it was developed by Opera East and ROH2 ready for its triumphant world premiere last week – 75 minutes of intense, sinister storytelling, combining crystal-clear narrative with complex ideas about idealism and self-delusion… Underpinning all this is a score of concise originality. Restless, leaping woodwind propel the narrative through the murky waters of the Congo, while interesting combinations of sonorities – double bass and classical guitar, for instance – trickle and bubble through the music… Concision is nowhere more evident than in Tom Phillips’s gloriously spare libretto. Drawn entirely from Conrad’s own writing, it hacks through the dense jungle of the author’s prose and elevates it to the status of the finest poetry.

Jeanne Whalen of The Wall Street Journal said, “’Heart of Darkness’ is very good … The English-language libretto by Tom Phillips is beautiful. … If you think of opera as an often bloated, over-wrought art form with hammy plots and acting, you would do well to try this one. It is elegant, moving, and, at just 75 minutes, short enough to allow time for dinner afterward.” And Claire Seymour from Opera Today said that Tarik O’Regan’s “fluent melodic idiom…skillfully evoked place and ambience with precision and impact.” And finally we can’t help but repeat that “preliminary development work with American Opera Projects and ROH 2’s OperaGenesis, reaped dividends for the finished article as jointly presented by Opera East Productions and ROH2.” Nice to know we’re doing it right.

Read The Genesis Foundation’s digest of press reviews for HEART OF DARKNESS.


The Honor! The Honor! Heart of Darkness heads for a World Premiere

April 21, 2010

Heart of Darkness world premiere logoGet your rivets ready to take your steamer upriver – the Thames, that is.

AOP is very excited to announce that Heart of Darkness will make its World Premiere in 2011 at the Royal Opera House 2 in London, England!  AOP’s Heart of Darkness is a one act chamber opera composed by Tarik O’Regan, based on Joseph Conrad’s much beloved novel of the same name. Heart of Darkness has been developed since 2006 at American Opera Projects with further development in partnership with OperaGenesis & Opera East Productions in England.

The production of Heart of Darkness also boasts an impressive roster of artists and musicians.  The libretto was created by British artist Tom Phillips, and the London premiere will be directed by the acclaimed Edward Dick.   Maestro Oliver Gooch will conduct Britten Sinfonia in the debut performance.

Audiences will have a chance to preview some of the music of Heart of Darkness in an exclusive piano/vocal reading on April 22, 2010. A performance will be held at 7p.m. on 22 Mansfield Street in London as part of The Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust concert series. The vocalist line-up for the evening features a stellar cast of singers (also conducted by Oliver Gooch) including;

-Soprano Jeanine De Bique as Woman of the River
-Mezzo-soprano Miranda Westcott as the Fiancé
-Tenor Philip Sheffield as Marlow
-Tenor Darren Abrahams as Harlequin
-Tenor Steven Ebel as the Boat Director
-Baritone Alex Ashworth as the Manager
-Baritone Ronan Collett as the Boilmaker
-Bass James Gower as Kurtz

Visit www.operaprojects.org/heart_of_darkness for further updates on the world premiere.


%d bloggers like this: