BWW Review: USHER at Folkoperan, Stockholm
Usher, Folkoperan, 20th of February, 2019
Claude Debussy began writing an opera based on Edgar Allan Po's classic horror novel "The Fall of the House of Usher". He never finished it but the music has now been completed by Annelies Van Parys and the libretto by Gaea Schoters by order by Folkoperan and Staatoper During the Linden in Berlin. Premiere was in Berlin on October 12, 2018 and premiered at Folkoperan in Stockholm on February 14, 2019.
Usher is about the last Usher, Roderick (Ola Eliasson) who lives in the old family house together with his sick twin sister Madeline (Alexandra Büchel). The doctor (Rickard Söderberg) spends a lot of time in the house and the question is whether he is there to cure or spread the virus of fear. Roderick asks his childhood friend (Olle Persson) to come and visit them. When he arrives, he finds his friend supervised by the doctor who reluctantly lets the friend stay in the house. The doctor does not have good intentions and uses Madeline in her helpless state. Roderick and Madeline are very close to each other and Roderick is extremely overprotective in a way that suffocates Madeline. The doctor explains Madeline dead and now Roderick is the very last Usher. But is she really dead?
The music is a bit too creaky and sharp for me and I miss a tune in it. At times, it created a certain unpleasant feeling as it should in a horror story. The lack of melody didn't bring the emotions out of the dialogue they sang. Olle Persson and Ola Eliasson were powerful in their song efforts. Alexandra Büchel's song was sometimes drowned by the music so it was difficult to perceive the lyrics in the song. It was good that everything was texted, even if the text machine wasn't timely all the time. Alexandra was very present in the scenes when she remotely viewed the three men. Richard Söderberg's doctor was an unpleasant person, whose hidden motives did not fully come out. At the end, he had some thought-provoking texts about fear and how fear is a powerful tool of power and how it is a virus that one can use to make people act as one wants. A clear contemporary mark.
The story was set in the living room which is a fairly bright and modern sparsely furnished room. The room itself felt too bright to be in a haunted house. But the stage lighting, gave the room a darker and more frightening feeling. The trees that looked outside the windows and the front door were nicely made.
Personally, I prefer more melodious operas, but for those who like more exciting and perhaps a little experimental chamber music, this opera can be a perfect fit. A different modern opera.
Usher is played until March 10 and tickets can be purchased here:
Photo @MatsBäcker, press