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Monday, 27 July 2009 20:58

Ghost Stories: A Night Opera - review

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Ghost Stories - a night opera‘Ghost Stories: A Night Opera’ was an evocative, innovative and haunting musical experiment

Performed in the atmospheric Gothic setting of St Luke’s Church. Neil Campbell, accompanied by the soaring and sublime vocals of Anne Taft, composed the music for this project whilst the eerie soundscape and electronics throughout were effectively handled by Michael Beiert. It was apparent that Campbell’s technically skilled classical guitar playing combined diverse musical influences, including elements of Spanish flamenco, minimalism, and progressive and experimental rock music. The music of ‘Ghost Stories’ itself is certainly compositionally suggestive of the subtle and elusive compositions of French impressionistic music such as Debussy and Satie, as well as the ambient pieces of more contemporary musicians such as Harold Budd and Brian Eno.

The music began slowly and tantalisingly against a rainy evening, and there was an air of good-humoured anticipation amongst the crowd, delighting in posturing as ghosts themselves in their transparent raincoats. Visual design was provided by Shaun Taft and a series of poignant and striking images offered a suitably elegiac background for the music and vocals, adding a further stirring dimension to the whole event. The opera began with a prelude of ten movements, one of which entitled ‘PSS’ was evidently inspired by an esoteric text by Samuel Beckett. Throughout these, the guitar playing and vocals combined movingly, building up gradually and powerfully. It then continued with further short and mysterious pieces variously entitled ‘Through the Looking Glass Part 3 + 4’, ‘Ghost Tango’, ‘Volk’ and finally ‘Sketch 5’. In all, this was an impressive enterprise on many levels, temporarily transporting the listener and spectator away to an ethereal world. Written by Jennie Tsai

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