REVIEW: Claire Booth and Netia Jones

Posted on November 29, 2010

Both Claire Booth and Netia Jones are working with Manchester Camerata in 2011. Here you can read a review of a recent collaboration at Kings PLace in London, written by Guy Dammann of the Guardian.

The tradition of presenting innovative, first-rate concerts to derisorily small audiences is now well established at Kings Place.

In this case, one would have thought an exceptional soprano like Claire Booth in a one-off performance of Poulenc’s infrequently staged but frequently cited telephone opera La Voix Humane, produced by a company that has often sold out other small venues, all priced at little more than a tenner – one would have thought all this could easily fill a modestly sized concert hall.

But with some 50 bums on 50 scattered seats, you’ve got to wonder what the marketing department does all day.

  Claire Booth performs with Manchester Camerata

Poulenc’s monologue was presented in its piano version (the accompaniment played by Christopher Glynn) as part of a continuous sequence. It followed Berio’s Sequenza III for solo voice – sung with astonishing, almost devil-may-care fluency by Booth – and his early Petite Suite for solo piano. The combination is clever. Sequenza III and the Poulenc invite comparison in exploiting the female voice as an instrument both of power and vulnerability, while the suite – a set of brief character pieces with many Poulenc-ish touches, played with crispness and wit by Alasdair Beatson – bridged the stylistic gap.

Starting with a static image of telegraph wires, Netia Jones’s video subtly enhanced the content. An interesting twist in the opera, which received a contemporary setting, was the video presence of the woman’s separated lover. Normally condemned in his absence, here there was a shift of sympathy (not merely because he appeared to inhabit a Calvin Klein advertisement). The woman’s progressively decaying mask of self-composure cast insight backwards to the Berio, and forwards, to a future in which the paranoia of disconnection looks set to overtake us all.

Read more about Visual Netia Jones
Mozart’s Requiem in Sheffield 25 February 2011
Read this review on The Guardian website