Monday 11 December 2023

The Sea review

The Sea is an opera in five parts in an exciting new collaboration between Forest Collective and BK Opera. The two arts companies have put together a riveting production that looks at love and the abuse of love through patriarchy, trauma and the imbalance of power.

Using a poem by Nicole Butcher, The Sea Libretto, we are told the story of an unnamed woman living in an abusive relationship. With music by Evan J. Lawson (Forest Collective's artistic director) and direction by Kate Millett (BK Opera's artistic director), this woman’s plight is linked to the sea, where its negative and positive associations are brought to the surface.

With an ensemble of eight musicians, Lawson conducts an evocative score that elicits feelings of freedom and exhilaration that being in a relationship and the sea can offer as well as the danger of becoming trapped and overpowered by said relationship and the sea. Millett's direction gives The Sea a more theatrical framing with some simple but dramatic ideas portraying the conflict being faced by the protagonist. A red sheet is used to cover the faces of the abusers playing with the notion that there is a sea full of these people and the double meaning of danger and passion with the use of the colour red.

The performers (Aleise Bright, Amanda Windred, S0daWater, Daniel Szesiong Todd, Archie Rumsam and Henry Shaw) show an exceptional connection to the various ways the material is presented and bring a strong visual element to the storytelling.

Forest Collective and BK Opera seek to inspire, surprise and challenge audiences when it comes to expectations around what classical music and opera can be and do, and The Sea is no exception. This may be a story around love, power and abuse, it is ambiguous enough to allow the audience to forge their own narrative within it and offering them the space to consider their own responses and reactions to this captivating work.

The Sea
was performed at Abbostford Convent between 8 - 10 December.


Kim Tan - Flute

Ryan Lynch - Clarinet

Jasmin Buell - Recorder (guest artist)

Phoebe Smithies - Horn

Trea Hindley - Trombone

Phillipa Safey - Keyboard (guest artist)

Alex MacDonald - Viola

Ian Crossfield - Double Bass

Image credit: Andrew Signor

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