L’Heure Espangnole and L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges, Glyndebourne, until August 25, call 01273 815000 (From The Argus)
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L’Heure Espangnole and L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges, Glyndebourne, until August 25, call 01273 815000
Directed by Laurent Pelly, L’Heure Espangnole is a rapid-fire farce, while L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges is a surreal moral fable reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
In L’Heure Espangnole, Stéphanie d’Oustrac is compelling as Concepción, the lusty yet frustrated clockmaker’s wife, whether tossing her knickers over her shoulder with anticipatory abandon, or bemoaning bedroom disappointments, crumpling with her head in a bucket.
Alek Shrader steals the show as long-haired lover Gonzalve, posturing in tight peach trousers in the fey style of Russell Brand, breaking off from impassioned clinches to scribble poetry.
Set designers Caroline Ginet and Florence Evrard show hundreds of clocks spilling up the wall together with the contents of a Spanish house, religious icons and even a stuffed bull. As Concepción finally finds happiness in the bedroom, the set springs to life: clocks chime, pendulums swing and a feather duster twirls gaily back and forth.
In the second piece, Barbara de Limburg’s oversized set immediately minimizes Khatouna Gadelia’s wicked Child, while the monstrous Chair and Armchair looming out of the darkness to condemn him are genuinely unsettling. Every role is wonderfully characterized: the resentfully chiming Grandfather Clock (Elliot Madore), the pugnacious Teapot (François Piolino), the sorrowing, wounded Tree (Paul Gay).
Kathleen Kim explodes from the fireplace as the exuberant Fire to terrifying effect, while the sorrowing painted wallpaper shepherds and shepherdesses are accompanied by a curious sheep. Kazushi Ono conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra sensitively and while Ravel’s music may be challenging, these joyful productions are terrific spectacles.