Heart of Darkness - Press
21st November 2011
Time Out London: Number 1 Critics' Choice, Five Best Concerts This
Week (3 Nov., 2011 edition)
Independent Information: Ten Best Performances (30 Oct., 2011)
Independent and "I": Critics' Picks (1 Nov., 2011)
Sunday Times: Critics' Picks (31 Oct., 2011)
Saturday Telegraph: Critics' Picks (29 Oct., 2011)
City A.M./Daily Mail: Weekend Pick (4 Nov., 2011)
Guardian: full page feature interview with Tom Service
~ 31 Oct., 2011
Time Out London: full page feature interview with Jonathan Lennie
~ 27 Oct., 2011 edition
Prospect: featured opera in "Prospect Recommends"
~ 2 Nov., 2011
"The brilliance of Tarik O'Regan and Tom Phillips's new chamber opera lies in its ability to convey all that horror without the compulsion to show it – the ultimate psychodrama – and to employ music of startling beauty to tell such a brutal tale [...] Underpinning all this is a score of concise originality. Restless, leaping woodwind propel the narrative through the murky waters of the Congo, while interesting combinations of sonorities – double bass and classical guitar, for instance – trickle and bubble through the music. Just 14 instrumentalists keep the singers afloat on this quirkily beautiful raft, expertly steered by conductor Oliver Gooch."
~ Observer (6 Nov., 2011)
"For my money, O'Regan is one of the great hopes for British music in the 21st century. I've been engaged, excited and entranced by his development [...] and this piece – his biggest undertaking to date – is obviously a landmark. With a libretto by the polymath artist/writer/genial giant Tom Phillips, it turned out to be a viable score that holds attention, sustains pace, and draws your ear into a magical and haunting sound-world, frequently sustained by a symphonic kind of writing for the voices – all of which places it head and shoulders among the vast majority of new music-theatre pieces that come along these days."
~Telegraph (2 Nov., 2011)
"Tarik O'Regan's Conrad adaptation is an audacious, handsome debut [...] The craftsmanship of this first opera is indubitable, the horror muted by curatorial delicacy."
~ Independent on Sunday (6 Nov., 2011)
"Heart of Darkness is very good. If you think of opera as an often bloated, over-wrought art form with hammy plots and acting, you would do well to try this one. It is elegant, moving, and, at just 75 minutes, short enough to allow time for dinner afterward."
~ Wall Street Journal (4 Nov., 2011)
"This neat production, mounted by Opera East and ROH2, has no time to babble. Floridly lyrical, instrumentalists from the spunky ensemble Chroma brightly chatter, especially winds, harp and celesta [...] in the music's clarity and harmonic sting. Worth seeing [...] and it’s short."
~ Times (3 Nov., 2011)
"The orchestral writing is richly coloured and imaginative. [Kurtz's] manic aria, inexorably repeating the single ironic phrase 'I am glad', has a charged intensity [...] O'Regan should be given another commission."
~ Telegraph (3 Nov, 2011)
"At around 75 minutes, the result is swift and well paced, with no individual scene lasting longer than it should. The opera demonstrates O'Regan's wide range of technical skills. The vocal writing is skilful and effective."
~ Guardian (2 Nov., 2011)
"The sound-worlds [O'Regan] conjures up with the Chroma Orchestra's percussion, woodwind, strings, harp, and celeste are very beguiling."
~ Independent (4 Nov., 2011)
"Fluidly conversational while suggestive of the ambivalences and dark enigmas that underlie the story."
~ Evening Standard (2 Nov., 2011)
"O'Regan and Phillips have created an atmospheric psychological drama. Reflecting O'Regan's transatlantic existence, his score references the anguished coiled chromatic vocal phrases of Benjamin Britten and the clean metrics of American minimalism, as well as including an exuberant dance to celebrate the arrival of vital, ship-repair-enabling rivets."
~ The Stage (2 Nov., 2011)
MAGAZINE & BLOG REVIEWS
"This is a thrilling new work, in a brilliantly realised production. I hope I get the opportunity to see it again soon [...] The handling of form and pace is superb. Marlow's journey is swift but the composer allows for moments of repose and reflection, effortlessly and almost imperceptibly altering tempo and metre, register and colour."
~ Opera Today (4 Nov., 2011)
"...this is a terrific new work, intelligently staged and magnificently performed [...] Taken as a whole, Heart of Darkness has more going for it that many new operas, and I left the auditorium longing to hear it again – preferably immediately, certainly soon. The tour mooted for 2012 cannot happen quickly enough."
~ ClassicalSource (5 Nov., 2011)
"A well-crafted, well-executed work, which, whatever the future may hold, permits of not only a satisfying but at times moving evening in the theatre. How refreshing it was, then, to experience a work and production that spoke of true collaboration."
~ Seen and Heard International (3 Nov., 2011)
"Tarik O'Regan's first step into operatic waters [is] fat-free and tautly structured [and] makes for a gripping 75 minutes. There aren't many tickets left, but do grab one if you can - and a spare for your friend who doesn't really like opera. This is the sort of production that might just change their mind."
~ Intermezzo (2 Nov., 2011)
"[With] wonderful orchestral touches [...] O'Regan has perfected the art of allowing the ensemble to function as a giant percussive instrument in choppier moments of tension. Overall Philips and O'Regan's Heart of Darkness treats a sinister and multi-layered subject with imagination and artistic flair and the small cast impressive [...] as thought-provoking and successful as any adaption of Conrad's symbolic frame-narrative can be."
~ Bachtrack (8 Nov., 2011)
"Heart of Darkness managed what a lot of contemporary opera does not care about, emotion. The woven textures of the score and the beautiful singing by the dedicated cast was a joy to listen to, but more importantly an emotional experience, like the best of opera it touched the audience."
~ OperaCreep/George's Musings... (8 Nov., 2011)
"O'Regan's first opera (he is only 33) is a mature representation of a difficult theme, which is both engaging and disturbing, though never dull."
~ Show Me Something Interesting/James Edward Hughes (2 Nov., 2011)
"Wow! This was a remarkable achievement by 33 year old composer Tarik O'Regan, along with a libretto by artist Tom Phillips. They have packed Joseph Conrad's novella into 75 minutes of gripping musical narrative [...] nothing is hurried, everything is accomplished."
~ Mark Ronan's Theatre Reviews (1 Nov., 2011)