The premise is exciting. Based on the best-selling novel by Alan Lightman, the brand-new opera Einstein’s Dreams fuses theatre, dance, electronic music and opera to explore the vagaries of Time, with a capital T. Last night we were treated to a preview of four scenes from the show at the Rada Studios.
Created by only six people, four of whom also perform in the production, the opera wisely continues its minimalist theme with a stark, pared-down black set which serves excellently to highlight the main focus; the music.
Unfortunately, the music itself is equally minimalistic. Repetitive and uninspiring, it fails to achieve the soaring heights demanded of it by the interesting libretto. Despite her best efforts, the sole beleaguered pianist is incapable of making any meaningful contribution to the drama. The performers themselves, while clearly talented, appear under-rehearsed and lacking in confidence. They also have the unenviable task of sprinting around behind the scenes, frantically changing their costumes and gathering their props before hurtling back on stage for the next set. One wonders how they managed to sing at all.
Oddly, for an opera, the narrative sections were arguably the most successful parts of the show. Picked out in eerily glowing lights and accompanied by a throbbing electrical score the librettist himself, Norman Welch, acted out extracts from the book. While the more wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey bits might have profited from even more atmospheric lighting, maybe some cosmic projections, these episodes were enthralling and thought-provoking.
Ultimately, Einstein’s Dreams has a lot of potential. With a little more polishing and, most importantly, some significant changes to the music, it could become something very interesting indeed.
Review by Genni Trickett
Imagine a world where each love affair has three different endings. Imagine a world where people chase nightingales in the hope of capturing a single moment. Time behaves in unexpected ways in Einstein’s Dreams, a new opera based on the best-selling novel by Alan Lightman. Now imagine seeing the world premiere of four scenes from this full-length piece that fuses classic theatricality, contemporary dance and an electronic score by award-winning composer Guy Harries (Flourish New Opera Prize 2013).
Music: Guy Harries
Words: Norman Welch
Stage Director: Danielle Urbas
Singers/Actors: Guy Harries, Tami Tal, Norman Welch
Dancer: Abigail Kessel
Musicians: Tsivi Sharett and Ipek Biserova
Produced by Red Hat Opera
Tuesday 7th August. 20:00 – 20:40
RADA Studios, 16 Chenies St, London, WC1E 7EX