Eight Little Greats – No.7: Love’s Luggage Lost

Love’s Luggage Lost (L’occasione fa il ladro) [Sung in an English translation by Amanda Holden]

Don Parmenione – Mark Stone
Martino – Adrian Clarke
Count Alberto – Iain Paton
Don Eusebio – Nicholas Sharratt
Ernestina – Kim-Marie Woodhouse
Berenice – Majella Cullagh

Orchestra of Opera North
David Parry

Director – Christopher Alden
Designer – Johan Engels
Costumes – Tom Pye
Lighting – Adam Silverman
Choreography – Clare Glaskin

Reviewed by: Alexander Campbell

Reviewed: 26 June, 2004
Venue: Sadler's Wells Theatre, London

Of the “Eight Little Greats” produced by Opera North this particular offering was subjected to some major critical invective when it was first mounted in Leeds earlier this year. On this London showing, whilst one might have had some quibbles about the over-fussy production, it had obviously settled down during the tour.

Amanda Holden has re-worked the Italian libretto into a witty, modern, appropriately wordy and evidently very singable translation. The initial storm-scene is now transported to a modern-day aircraft and airport setting – all the luggage subsequently coming out on a baggage-retrieval system prior to falling into the wrong hands.

Some of the slick choreographed routines were very funny indeed – Mark Stone’s attempt at drinking his gin and tonic on the shaking aeroplane was masterly. That the words were also audible really helped understanding the convoluted plot, which involves nearly everyone pretending to be someone else, and some characters finding long-lost relatives – the usual Rossini mix!

However, there did appear to be moments when the production became over-fastidious – rather than letting the piece speak for itself the director seemed intend on filling the stage with constant distracting movement from characters not directly involved in the action at that point.

With the singers managing to get much of the words across, and infectiously, the slow-build patter ensembles, so characteristic of Rossini, had a clarity that was admirable, and aided by David Parry’s excellent balance between stage and pit. That the orchestra responded, as it had all week, with some fizzing and idiomatic playing, almost goes without saying.

Some of the voices were not vintage Rossini ones but Mark Stone’s sunny and relatively light baritone voice was heard in fine fettle in the role of the manipulative Don Parmenione. Iain Paton as the naïve Count Alberto sang his slow aria most engagingly, although he seemed to have more trouble with Rossini’s coloratura in the faster passages of his role. The two ladies, Majella Cullagh and Kim-Marie Woodhouse, made much of the scenes too and were nicely differentiated from a dramatic point of view. Adrian Clarke delivered a fantastic patter aria, and Nicholas Sharratt did what he could with the rather thankless role of Eusebio.

The piece proved a pleasant enough score, and was fine antipasti before moving to the evening’s main course, The Dwarf.

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