It was perhaps no coincidence that Opera Theatre Company chose The Diary of Anne Frank as their farewell show and this solo/mono opera written by Russian composer Grigory Frid was an Irish and UK premiere of the show in English.
A nine piece chamber orchestra under Andrew Synnott’s direction provided the drama inherent in the piece and musically this group painted a more vivid and poignant image than did the singer Ani Maldjian (soprano) whose solo work was very reflective and full of foreboding.
In the diary’s text there is a lot of fear for the uncertain future as readers of that book will know. Opera Theatre’s future is as equally uncertain as plans outlined by Martin Cullen TD when he was Minister at DAST were initially to merge Wexford Opera, Opera Ireland and Opera Theatre into one national or Irish National Opera. That got diluted to Wexford staying as it was and the others becoming the national entity.
Now that Mary Hannafin TD is in charge of the arts portfolio, she has not been as reassuring as Cullen was. Uncertain times and an uncertain future. I have been critical of Opera Theatre’s service in Waterford and as I missed this visit to the Theatre Royal I kept the faith and said my farewells in The Watergate Kilkenny. Nicky Shaw designed a stark book flat style setting with a raised floor containing several trapdoors and nooks.
I fear there will be less touring opera and less daring choices and it is the provinces that will suffer. Anne Frank had no good news in her life and there is despair in her diary. Opera lovers have reason to be afraid – to be very afraid.