Robert Tanitch reviews ENO’s The Handmaid’s Tale at the London Coliseum

I was brand new to Paul Ruders’ opera, having neither read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 futuristic dystopian novel nor seen the 1990 film or TV series.

The opera was first performed in Copenhagen in 2000 and was last performed by ENO in 2003. The libretto is by Paul Bentley. It’s very prophetic and feels even more meaningful and relevant now.

But with horrors being reported in Ukraine every day, would you like to spend an evening at the theater and see more horrors? The running time is 2 hours 45 minutes.

ENO’s Artistic Director Annilese Miskimmon will direct and Joana Carneiro will conduct. A strong cast was assembled, led by Kate Lindsey as Offred. The production team, all women, bowed. The curtain calls went on and on.

The story takes place in the 21st century in the near future. The US government was overthrown and the President assassinated. A brutal totalitarian state, a Bible-based dictatorship run Taliban-style by right-wing fundamentalists, has been established.

Welcome to the Republic of Gilead, a patriarchal, white racist, theonomic society. Adultery, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, transgender are crimes.

Women are denied the right to work and property. You are not allowed to read or write. Women are for fertility purposes only. The birth rate has plummeted and fertile women are being forced to get pregnant.

The Alban Berg-esque music, harsh dissonances, and religious choral work all have an undeniable impact. ENO hopes to engage an audience that doesn’t normally go to the opera and has seen the TV series and might be persuaded to see it

During the intermission I wondered if I would ‘enjoy’ the opera (if that’s the right word) more if I had read the novel. I certainly “enjoyed” act 2 much more than act 1 and thought it was much better dramatically.

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Robert Tanitch reviews ENO’s The Handmaid’s Tale at the London Coliseum

Source link Robert Tanitch reviews ENO’s The Handmaid’s Tale at the London Coliseum

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