Review: Opera for an Unknown Woman – ‘a landscape of cosmic significance’
Upon entering the LBT auditorium you are struck by a circular feature high up centre stage depicting a futuristic weather station wherein is the last woman on earth some 300 years hence. Huge projected faces form a female chorus that paints a dystopian vision of planet Earth in a state of Armageddon due to climate change.
However, on a more positive note, they encourage the onstage contemporary feminists to take action to change the foreseen end of humanity’s time on the planet. As well as operatic sections there are moments when the on-stage performers from a wide variety of cultures openly discuss the issues at stake. These debates question the notion of revolution (hard or soft), direct action and use of a democratic voice.
Melanie Wilson’s haunting electronic soundscape is incredibly immersive and the use of electro-acoustic instruments – drums, violin and cello – is used most effectively. While Will Duke’s spectacular projections really create a landscape of cosmic significance. Musical highlights include a plaintive Bulgarian folksong and a Middle Eastern lament. But despite the seductive form this is essentially cutting edge agitprop. Most importantly it demands us to think about personal politics – what can little me do to save the planet? And the answer is resoundingly feminist solidarity.
Reviewed by Rich Jevons on 21st June 2016 at Lawrence Batley Theatre (LBT) where it runs till 24th June, see http://www.thelbt.org/Opera-Unknown-Woman. For more info on Melanie Wilson see http://www.melaniewilson.org.uk/