Sitting out on the windy terrace of the Royal Opera House amphitheatre bar, overlooking busy Covent Garden piazza in the rain, waiting for Linbury Studio Theatre to open downstairs for the world premiere of Scott Walker’s score for Jean Cocteau’s “Duet for One Voice”.

The auditorium darkens, the shrill sound of a single 1930s telephone ring, swiftly followed by incoming cascades of loud invasive sound, nebulous spectral clouds, molten stars and planets, a wildly gyrating male figure seen within a Beckett-type mouth. Aletta Collins’ six dancers (three of either sex) appearing and reappearing on the dark set. Sitting in a red armchair, semi-hidden behind a raised copy of Le Monde (“read your newspaper”) ~ toying with a small radio by the chair, a glass of wine…

Grand exits and entrances.  Flourishes and body language.  Domestic unease and small frustrations, the rules of disengagement.

Walker’s impressive score, intense, wilfully unpredictable yet precise to the action, a counterpoint to Cocteau’s narrative, a sonic gauntlet from intimate shuffles and silences to what sounded like an amplified fight to the death between dogs and lions.

Big rolling sound vapour clouds assail the audience, thunderous bass, rogue clarinets, asphyxiated saxophones.

“There are no plans to release this music commercially”.

The red chair reappears halfway up the wall, a female dancer writhing within…

©Michael Kemp

Published On: June 18th, 2011 / Categories: Life, Music / Tags: /