Aurora has teamed up with English Touring Opera for the company’s autumn tour, with three very different operas travelling to venues across England – Britten’s Albert Herring; Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse; and Walter Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis, originally written in the concentration camp of Terezin and paired here with Bach’s cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden.
Two of the productions opened over the past week at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre, and critics have been delighted. In addition to praise for the productions and the singing, the orchestra has received some particularly nice write-ups. In a five-star review of the Ullmann/Bach double-bill, The Independent’s Michael Church hails a production which ‘effortlessly bridges the gulf between Baroque grace and Ullmann’s blend of cabaret and Berg-influenced modernism’. Alexandra Coghlan’s review at Artsdesk.com highlights the extraordinary effect created by Iain Farrington’s new arrangement of the Bach cantata for the instrumental forces available to Ullmann in confinement: ‘hearing Bach through the unfamiliar tones of a clarinet, unnaturally raw and rough-edged, is as vivid a homage to this brutal episode of history as I’ve heard.’ Over on his Boulezian blog, Mark Berry writes: ‘Not for the first time, the heroic efforts of English Touring Opera have put to shame the larger, wealthier opera companies’, while David Karlin at Bachtrack describes Aurora’s performance at ‘top class, vibrant and punchy’.
Kimon Daltas‘ review of Albert Herring highlights Aurora’s playing as ‘flawless’, with conductor Michael Rosewell ‘keeping things tight and light, extracting every ounce of wit from the score’. The Guardian’s Erica Jeal describes the orchestra as ‘excellent’, and there’s another lovely review from Robert Matthew-Walker at Classical Source. Meanwhile at FT.com Richard Fairman writes: ‘best of all is the Aurora Orchestra under Michael Rosewell, every soloist a brilliant comic cameo in their own right.’