The Sloans Project

I saw a great new opera recently, The Sloans Project. Composed by Gareth Williams with a libretto by David Brook, it was set and performed in the historic Sloans Bar and Restaurant. Yes, that’ll be opera performed in a pub! The opening scene was a coup de theatre. As the audience milled about in the bar downstairs, the show just started right there, with a couple at the bar bursting into song, soon to be answered by another drunken-looking guy at the bar. After that the audience were invited to process to some of the upstairs rooms, where there were a series of three vignettes, followed by a culminating scene in the ballroom.

Gareth of course is a friend and colleage of mine of old, with his PhD at the RSAMD – sorry, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – running more or less in parallel to mine. Recently he’s been plowing the operatic furrow consistently and with great success. His musical language is very spare and secure, with a great command of vocal writing. In this piece I was drawn in by the unique staging as much as anything else, but I seemed to detect some new thinking in his approach, particularly in scene two Chopin’s Ghosts, which collided separate and uncoordinated music in different keys on the harp and piano in a very creative and effective way.

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