Reviewed by David Truslove
‘My only mistress is music’, Maurice Ravel once remarked. Considering he was a private, even secretive composer who avoided relationships, his comic opera L’heure espagnole, with its central good-time girl, offers a rare glimpse into the composer’s humanity. The work’s sophisticated integration of Hispanic influences illustrates an affinity with Spain – inherited from his Basque-born mother. Perhaps the bawdy humour of Franc-Nohain’s 1904 play appealed to him. Whatever the attractions for Ravel, he created a wonderfully entertaining one act opera that has been superbly fashioned into a film by Grange Park Opera.
First performed at the Opéra-Comique in 1911 and originally set in 18th century Toledo, L’heure espagnole has been artfully relocated to London’s Church St. Kensington thanks to the initiative of Grange Park Opera and the ever-resourceful Wasfi Kani. She’s even provided the English surtitles. [Indeed, this work is the latest of fifty-one free to view on-line events presented by GPO in the past year.] No less enterprising is opera director Stephen Medcalf, whose film circumnavigated lockdown restrictions to enable singers to record their parts at the Wigmore Hall before miming them on location at the upmarket Howard Walwyn’s Fine Antique Clocks. Continue reading