Into The Little Hill has to be the strangest opera I’ve seen. At forty minutes it doesn’t even feel like an opera, more an extended prologue to something else, but it has a clear beginning, middle and end, doesn’t conform to the parameters of either an operetta or a musical so that’s what its been labelled as. It’s a pity really as it is more akin to a morality tale that happens to be set to music.
Ostensibly an updated version of the Pied Piper myth, it’s really about modern politics. It’s difficult not to see that the Mayor is supposed to be a Blair like figure, desperately seeking re-election and willing to do anything to get it. Likewise the Piper (faceless and unseen) is a soldier returning from Iraq who having completed a dirty job is then forgotten about. It’s not explicit, but it’s difficult not to see the parallels.
Musically it moves from rather sweet melodies to jarring soundscapes. The two performers move about the orchestra depending on what role they are taking at the time. This has the effect of creating a single source of sound, the tightness with which everything is packed together meaning that there is no room moving from one area to another to create a feeling of space. It works but is a bit disorientating.
Recommended? Not sure – I think I need to see it a second time to try to figure it all out – but it did make for an interesting night.