SVADBA at the Queen’s House
A brilliant contemporary opera written by a woman with an all-female cast – there could be no better way to round off Trinity Laban’s triumphant Venus Blazing season, a year-long programme of concerts in which at least half the works were by women composers.
Ana Sokolović’s Svadba, staged in the acoustically glorious great hall of the Queen’s House, is about a bride-to-be, Milica, and five friends enjoying a prenuptial evening of ritual, dance, song, celebration, rivalry, friendship and - most important of all – solidarity and sisterhood.
In the matinee performance I saw, Sofia Celenza was magnificent as Milica and was wonderfully supported by Suzanne Fenell, Eleanor Strutt, Olga Argo, Eleanor Kemp and Kennedy Crawford who perfectly captured the changing moods of the participants.
This was no mean feat because they not only sang their parts a capella – save for occasional percussive flourishes using tin caps and handclaps which they provided themselves – they also had to sing in an unfamiliar language, Sokolović’s native Serbian.
But the result was sublime, a combination of music (directed by Benjamin Cox) and performance that was moving, uplifting and tremendous fun.
In a neat nod to the history of opera, Sokolović’s 2011 piece was preceded by a short work by the Italian giant Claudio Monteverdi, one of the pioneers of the genre.
Lamento della Ninfa, written 400 years earlier, was beautifully sung by soprano Nicola Jane Roberts and a fine male chorus of Lars Fischer, Sandeep Gurrapadi, Robert Lydon, Alexander White, Lawrence Gillians, Konrad Jaromin, William Semele and Pablo Boira-Boulding.
Like the whole Venus Blazing season, this concert was flawless. I can’t wait to see what Trinity Laban does next...
Picture: Lidia Crisafulli