New David Sawer opera triumphs at Garsington

11 July 2018

July 5 saw the premiere of David Sawer’s first opera in 10 years, The Skating Rink, to a libretto by rising-star playwright Rory Mullarkey. The commission from Garsington Opera is the first in the 30-year history of the company and has been a bold and artistic triumph for all concerned, rewarded with 4- and 5-star reviews from the press, with The Times saying it “deserves many more outings”.

“Sawer’s score is shamelessly and spectacularly eclectic…. it deserves many more outings” – Richard Morrison, The Times

“Sawer’s setting of Rory Mullarkey’s libretto maintains clarity and his score combines immediacy with pace: there’s a particularly magical sequence when skater Alice Poggio takes to the ice as Nuria and Sawer’s music soars in lyrical flight” – George Hall, The Stage

“it’s certainly a taut and coherent plot… Sawer’s orchestral music gets the chance to drive the drama forward. With orchestration that’s carefully varied from act to act… there are some striking effects, lingering textures and telling solo lines, in a score that increasingly confounds expectations” – Andrew Clements, The Guardian

"An utterly compelling experience... Sawer's score is challenging, but as one Garsington punter remarked, the more dramatic narrative gripped, the more engaging the music became." - Andrew Green, Opera Now

“the music engages fully as it steps on to the skating rink” – Richard Fairman, The Financial Times

“a fascinating and lively score…. Sawer is an imaginative orchestrator and an accomplished contrapuntalist” – Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph

“one of the season’s most surprising triumphs… the music fizzes with complexity, realizing its potential in a dizzying palette of styles but uniting in carefully structured rhythmic devices which seem to drive the action forward at break-neck speed” – Guy Dammann, Times Literary Supplement

“Sawer’s score is gripping…his vocal writing clear and emotionally direct” – Charlotte Valori, Bachtrack

“Sawer and Mullarkey have created a new opera with a striking voice, one which managed to draw an enthusiastic response from a very engaged audience” – Robert Hugill

Based on the novel La Pista de hielo by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, the opera tells the story from three differing viewpoints, two of which were sung by fellow Rayfield Allied artists Grant Doyle (Enric) and Sam Furness (Gaspar) who also received excellent reviews for their performances.

The Skating Rink is scored for chamber orchestra and 8 principal singers with a total duration of 106 minutes. All enquiries for future performances to Ralph Blackbourn at Rayfield Allied.

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