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MACONCHY: THE SOFA / THE DEPARTURE
These two one-act operas by the English composer Elizabeth Maconchy were performed by Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells in 2007. Nobody could have predicted that this double-bill of unknown operas would cause such a stir, but they proved a highlight on the London performance scene. Geoffrey Norris of The Daily Telegraph commented, ‘These two productions showed the bold Independent Opera at its best, with conductor Dominic Wheeler and a compact instrumental group wholly at one with the cast and with the contrasting moods that the operas evoke’. Maconchy studied with Vaughan Williams but eschewed English pastoralism for the sophisticated modernism of Central Europe embodied by the music of Janácek and Bartók. The Sofa is a light-hearted work on a libretto that was adapted by Ursula Vaughan Williams from an eighteenth-century French source. The Departure, by contrast, is an unsettling piece, a tender psychological exploration of bereavement.
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Both operas receive performances that any composer would die for. The casts are first-rate, and the orchestra is excellent. Dominic Wheeler’s direction is flexible and deeply compelling.
More reviews from the 2007 production:
The outstanding performance came from Louise Poole in The Departure: this is a voice you’d be glad to hear in a bigger theatre…
If Independent Opera, the vigorous young company that staged this, carries on in this vein – inventive staging, outstanding musical performance, good-looking ensemble cast – it’s in serious danger of giving opera a fashionable name…
My first reaction, on seeing Independent Opera’s double bill of operas by Elizabeth Maconchy, was “why have I not seen these operas before”, and my second was “when can I see them again”
Music and Vision
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Chandos Records is one of the world's premier classical music record companies, best known for its ground breaking search for neglected musical gems. The company has pioneered the idea of the 'series' and proudly includes series of such composers as Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Parry, Walton, Grainger, Berkeley and Bridge. Renowned for its superb sound quality, Chandos has won many prestigious awards for its natural sound.