Reducing a novel full of large scale Gothic gestures to a chamber opera for five characters, no chorus and a chamber orchestra is no mean feat. Michael Berkeley and his librettist David Malouf have succeeded to an astonishing degree. Although Jane’s early years are left out of the telling, pretty much everything else is “in”.
Berkeley’s music is in an approachable atonal idiom. (More Henze than Nono- with a tonal theme based on “Verrano a te” from Donizetti’s LUCIA worked in to the scenes of the crazy wife in the tower.)
The music seems an ideal evocation of Gothic mood. Interestingly, Berkeley defies operatic convention and casts his hero, Rochester as a Bass rather than a tenor.
The singers are uniformly excellent, and the instrumental playing is first rate.
A fine sound recording.
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