RIAM Opera’s ‘Suor Angelica’ receives rave review in international ‘Opera Magazine’

May 272015

Suor AngelicaRIAM’s recent searing production of the Puccini classic received a rave notice from reviewer Ian Fox, who described the production as ‘marvellously fresh’ with strong performances noted in all the major roles.  Opera Magazine

The  phrase  ‘Magdalene laundries’  can  still  send  a shiver  down  most  Irish  spines. Created in the 18th century to house unmarried mothers, whose babies were taken away (or sold),  they condemned  many unfortunate  girls and women  to a lifetime of hard labour in squalid  laundry-rooms. Horrifyingly, some of them persisted  into the 1990s when finally the Dickensian misery was exposed and, along with the paedophile priests scandal, served to bring the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to its knees, and to cost the Irish government  large sums in compensation. lt was an inspired idea for the young Irish  director  Tom  Creed  to  link  these  workhouses  to  the  story  of  Puccini ‘s  Suor Angelica, with its reek of incense and old-world  religiosity. Creed set his staging  in a huge laundry room in the recent past. Most of the chorus were the enslaved  workers, with  a  few  nuns  and  some  sadistic  overseers   to  maintain  order.  The  relocation transformed  the work, replacing  its syrupy sentimentality  with a sharp cutting edge. Angelica’s aunt was a smart businesswoman, carrying the fatal papers in her briefcase. The  final, over-the-top  apparition  was thankfully  dropped, as Angelica  died on  the laundry-room floor, coughing blood into one of the recently-ironed  sheets.

This  marvellously  fresh  presentation  was given  by the  ROYAL IRISH  ACADEMY OF MUSIC’s opera school in collaboration  with the LIR NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC  ART.