Music: Alexander Horowitz
Lyrics: Jenny Knotts
Director: Stasi Schaeffer
Conductor: Ross Gunning
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
With the audience entering, stumbling almost, onto an already unfolding scene around a kitchen table, One Day This Will Be Long Ago begins. The 15 minute opera, devised and performed by Opera Breve (all of whom are alumni of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) depicts the demise in the relationship between two unnamed characters who move around a bare kitchen table. Despite strong vocal performances throughout from Victoria Atkinson and Brian McBride, this short opera lacks any real sense of cohesion both musically and lyrically.
As a standalone opera, One Day This Will Be Long Ago simply seems to much in its own world to make any sense or register any feeling with an audience. On a plot level, one could be forgiven for thinking of a broken record; the lyric ‘I remember… the kitchen table’ is repeated so often it quickly loses its dramatic effect and becomes almost comical with its overuse. Indeed, very little other dialogue exists within this libretto, thus one is left feeling there has been no progress in storyline between the audience arriving and leaving. Of course, this may very well be some clever dramatic technique to symbolise the monotony of relationships as they turn stale, but if this was the intention it was not clear in the performance. With respect to set, bar the kitchen table, the silhouette of a backlit conductor (Ross Gunning, who does an excellent job leading the live orchestra) from behind a white sheet is all that can be seen. Again, this may be symbolic, but the silhouette’s only addition seemed to be the acknowledgement of a live band.
In short, despite excellent vocal performances from its cast, One Day This Will Be Long Ago lacks any character whatsoever and appears too clever for its own good, resulting in a terribly disappointing, if very short, opera.