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