Daily Express critic William Hartston feared the worst as the theatre lights dimmed:
WHEN a cinema screen lowered over the stage at the Coliseum at the start of this new production of Donizetti's rarely performed opera about wicked 15th century Italians, I thought, “Here we go again”.
The ENO has a rather dodgy recent history of asking noted stage or film directors to have a go at opera and the results have all too often fallen somewhere on a scale between disappointing and disastrous. The nuns, Hitlers and Elvis look-alikes in Rupert Goold's Turandot last year, and the crackling giant toy train track and Irish jigging soprano in Rufus Norris's recent Don Giovanni stick in the memory as examples of directorial self-indulgence interfering with great music. So I feared the worst when I saw the cinema screen descend at the beginning of Mike Figgis's Lucrezia Borgia.
But by the end he was won over:
Figgis's mixture of film and opera is a brave move, and will probably be disliked by purists, but it really works and brings a new multimedia dimension to this rarely produced but excellent work.
The 3D live relay can be seen in selected cinemas on 23 February.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.