Taking its title from one of Brittens Cabaret Songs, The Truth about Love was very cleverly devised and directed by Jos Dario Innella.
Aptly subtitled Dramatic ruminations over Schumann, Britten and Ebel song cycles, this proved to be a winning evening of music theatre.
Three of the Royal Operas Jette Parker artists delivered assured performances that showed promise of great things to come.
The Jette Parker young Artists Programme is a vital part of the Royal Operas raison dtre, as it nurtures young artists and allows them to grow and develop within the framework of the organisation. All three of the singers who performed in this engrossing evening of music theatre already have a sizeable chunk of small parts on the main stage under their belt and are scheduled to cover many major roles throughout the rest of the season.
This work, devised and directed by Jos Dario Innella, takes three song cycles about love, namely Schumanns Frauenliebe und Leben, Brittens Cabaret Songs and Steven Ebels Diary of a Young Poet (Ebel is one of the singers) and mixes them together each singer is allotted one song cycle, but they are not performed in order. What looked slightly crazy on paper nevertheless worked, and if there were more moments of Grand Guignol than were strictly necessary then so what. There was more dramatic spark and invention in soprano Elisabeth Meisters singing of Brittens Tell me the truth about love than there had been in the entirety of Rupert Goolds staging of Turandot down the road and what a singer she proved to be.
She has faultess diction, is a superb actress and despite all three characters looking as they were just making their way home from a particularly uneventful night at the Torture Garden, managed to overcome the Miss Whiplash appearance to show a true sense of vulnerability. Maybe it helped that she was the only one singing in English, but she certainly made a hugely favourable impression.
Kai Rtel sang the Schumann with the right sense of despair and longing but they are fiendishly difficult to interpret, especially for such a young singer whilst Steven Ebels songs would probably have benefitted more by being heard on their own. Its a brave composer who intersperses his songs with two masterpieces but even so, this young American has a distinctive ear and an appealing voice.
A totally surprising, unexpected and charming evening.