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Blond Eckbert at GSMD

I recently spent a holiday week walking in Lower Austria, through the Wiener Alpen. "Viennese" Alps sounded like they would be fairly manageable, but not a bit of it, and we were often challenged by rocky descents, dark forest paths and narrow ridges. With a new production of my opera Blond Eckbert on the horizon (if I made it home alive) I began to remember lines from its libretto, where the female lead escapes her family to live in a lonely forest hut, following a dangerous mountain journey. When her husband retraces her steps in Act 2, he travels the whole route in solitude except for the sight of one mystery man walking wordlessly in the opposite direction, and this actually happened to us while walking over the Hohe Mandling, causing us to wonder ever since (as Eckbert does) who he was and where he was going.

The Guildhall School's production (directed by Ashley Dean, designed by Anna Bonomelli) is wittily abstract, so you won't be seeing any chasms and waterfalls, but I believe it tells the strange story (by Ludwig Tieck) very succinctly. The performance uses the 10-piece orchestral arrangement I made in 2006, and I've rarely heard it played so fluently (under Tim Redmond's direction.) The singing by Guildhall's opera students is dependably excellent, and I feel confident in recommending the performances on June 5, 7, 9 and 12, prefaced by Holst's striking Savitri.





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