Music Theatre Wales
(Signum Classics, 2CDs)
With a libretto by celebrated novelist Ian McEwan, Michael Berkeley’s chamber opera created a stir at its 2008 premiere. A morality tale about a narcissistic composer who uses and abuses everyone in sight, it bristles with wit and lyricism, while giving other composers and librettists a lesson in how to drape operatic tradition in modern clothes.
The music comes across better on this live recording than in the theatre, if only because Berkeley’s mercurial orchestral score can take centre-stage, independent of his often less-than-gratifying vocal writing.
Alan Opie’s Charles makes a strong centrepiece, and the Music Theatre Wales Ensemble responds vividly to Michael Rafferty’s baton.