2003, London Royal Albert Hall, War and Peace

War and Peace


Composer : Sergey Prokofiev
Librettists : Prokofiev and M Mendelson after Tolstoy’s novel of 1869
Venue and Dates : A semi-staged performance by ENO for the Proms at Royal Albert Hall, London
September 8, 2003
Conductor : Paul Daniel
Director : Martin Constantine (Original production Tim Albery)
Sets : Hildegard Bechtler
Performers :

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky : Simon Keenlyside
Pierre Bezukhov : John Daszak
Natasha : Catrin Wyn-Davies
Anatole Kuragin : John Graham-Hall
Field Marshal Kotuzov : Willard W White
Napoleon : Peter Sidhom
General Barclay de Tolly/Karatayev : Stuart Kale
Mariya, Natasha’s godmother : Catherine Wyn-Rogers

Notes :


Tom Service for The Guardian, Monday September 8, 2003


“Simon Keenlyside’s Andrey and Catrin Wyn-Davies’s Natasha were the outstanding performances of the evening. Keenlyside’s jaded Andrey found a new lease of life in his passion for the much younger Natasha. Their tortuous route to engagement has an equally painful end: in Andrey’s absence, Natasha prepares to elope with Anatole, an adulterous cad sung here by John Graham-Hall. “

“Andrey’s final reunion with Natasha was the most moving scene of the second part, and Keenlyside and Wyn-Davies sang their sensuous duet before Andrey died to the ghostly strains of a half-remembered waltz from their courtship.”

Helen Wright for musicomh.com


“Andrey was once again Britain’s favourite baritone, Simon Keenlyside: a perfect Prince, his velvet tone, perfect diction (as always) and expressive face projecting every emotion.”

David Gutman for classicalsource.com (extracts)


“The reunion scene of Andrey and Natasha was as profoundly moving as ever…”

“Willard White’s not inappropriately mature Marshal Kutuzov scored a palpable hit with the Prommers, his stage presence undimmed even if one had to strain to identify notes. The Napoleon, as is almost always the case, went down less well, having failed to provide the imposing counterweight required (Prokofiev’s fault maybe). John Daszak’s Pierre Bezukhov compensated for a lack of vocal allure with singing and acting of some fervour. Best of all, Simon Keenlyside gave us his wonderfully mellifluous and assured Andrey, every word audible, the tone only compromised as he sought to convey the approach of death.

Singing opposite him, Catrin Wyn-Davies as Natasha was firmer and certainly had more of the words than her predecessor, yet didn’t efface memories of the young Felicity Lott in ENO’s previous, Colin Graham production. The house’s oft-threatened chorus, grabbing their opportunities to impress, sounded just a shade underpowered at first in the vastness of an unfamiliar venue, but came up trumps in the final chorus, recycling Kutuzov’s big tune (originally part of the Ivan the Terrible film music) with real aplomb.

With touching informality, Paul Daniel dedicated the performance of what is, after all, nothing if not a company show, to the memory of Susan Chilcott. To those who love this work and this company, it was a great night.”

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment