A jarring portrait

Victorian Opera has to be commended for its policy of encouraging and presenting new works. But why does so much modern music have to be tuneless, jarring and painful to the ear?

The premiere of Rembrandt’s Wife (now on at the Merlyn Theatre at the Malthouse) told a largely unknown story with plenty of drama and intrigue but the music was so dysfunctional. What’s wrong with a good melody?

Sue Smith (much praised for her numerous TV dramas for the ABC) provided a tight and dramatic libretto but Andrew Ford’s accompanying score did little to underscore, illuminate or enhance what was taking place on stage.

Gary Rowley does a fine job in the lead role and there are stand-out performances from Roxanne Hislop and all other cast members. The staging is imaginative and complimentary with mounds of coloured grains resembling an artist’s palatte.

The individual components are undeniably good but the overall product falls short – mostly because the music lacks appeal or interest. A story looking for a playwright rather than a composer.

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