The acting in this opera was superb: Mary Plazas as Analia, a character barely living on the edge of sanity; Christopher Steele as her louche husband Luis, slouching and leering his way around the stage - and all the singers were convincing in their parts. There were good touches such as the young Luis kicking at a grave in the first scene - an indication of the petulant spoilt man he would grow up to be. I found it strange, though, that a new and important character should be introduced in the last scene without any hint of his existence before then. The set and the costumes were striking in their stark simplicity. All the clothes were white, black or muted brown apart from Gloria’s bright red skirt. The set was a single bare, white structure, often forbidding when in shadow but a sunny South American scene when brightly lit.
With a Jamaican-born composer and a libretto based on a South American story, I was expecting to hear and feel rhythms from one or both of those countries in this piece. Most of the time however these were sadly lacking. I found myself struggling to make sense of the discordant music – discordant it seemed for no reason. For me, the music often did not portray the emotion the singer was showing; there was almost no relief from the barrage of sound. I also found the English titles irritating as the opera was sung in English anyway (though I believe many people find them helpful). The wedding scene and then Gloria’s song near the end were lovely surprises, making the contrast to the sadness around all the more poignant. More contrast like this thoughout the production would have been very welcome.