The rise of feminist critique in the world of opera has given life to some fascinating discussions. It opens up a whole new way of appreciating our favourite operas, and this is exactly what Spanish actress and soprano Miren de Miguel aims to achieve through
A thought-provoking hour of operatic prowess.
The set is perhaps the most striking element of this production. The stark, chilling staging perfectly sets the tone for the piece we are about to see. Highlighting the cold, unforgiving world of women in opera, the set is at once claustrophobic and horrifyingly empty. Vocally, Miren is an absolute powerhouse. There is no note too high nor too low, and not a bum note to be heard in the whole hour of extremely demanding repertoire. The ease with which she shifts from the sweetness of Ave Maria by Verdi to the boisterous L’amour est un oiseau rebelle is also the mark of an extremely talented singer.
The production could benefit from some more accurate translation, however. We are provided with a transcription of what is being said on stage and there are subtitles projected on the side of the stage. At times however there are sections of subtitles that seem to be either missing or just different from my transcription, and there are one or two sentences in the subtitles which don't quite make sense, which brought me out of the flow of the piece somewhat.
The choice of arias seems somewhat strange too, as the flyer claims to take us through the operatic world of Verdi (and indeed most of the arias are from his operas) – but there are also many by Mozart, Bizet and Puccini to name a few. I applaud this choice as it strengthens the argument being made by showing that the oppression of women in opera is not limited to a single composer, but it might be a bit of a misstep for those looking solely for an hour of Verdi’s finest.
A well thought out and brave piece of art bringing the often overlooked historical oppression of women in opera to the forefront, this is a thought-provoking hour of operatic prowess.