The recent production of a triple bill of operas by Massenet and Martinu, directed by Stephen Barlow for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with designs by Performing Arts client Yannis Thavoris, had excellent reviews. There were many positive mentions of Thavoris’s designs, as well as praise for Stephen Barlow’s direction, the ‘stylistic assurance’ of conductor Peter Robinson (The Guardian) and the singing of Guildhall students.
The Guildhall has previously produced Massenet’s La Navarraise and Le Portrait de Manon, and Martinu’s Comedy on the Bridge, but never as a triptych. The Guardian enjoyed ‘Stephen Barlow’s skilful production’, The Times gave it four stars and praised ‘an evening of wonderfully concentrated drama’, while the Evening Standard described it as “a beguiling triptych” and noted that ‘The sets — in case you thought student meant low-rent — are great.’
The review on Bachtrack said: ‘Yannis Thavoris’s sets for all three operas were exemplary: straightforward, visually interesting and adding plenty of atmosphere to proceedings.’ What’s on Stagethought the triple bill ‘succeeds wonderfully well, in Stephen Barlow’s beautifully-judged staging’ and said of Comedy on the Bridge: ‘Written in 1937, it was conceived as a radio opera, surprising given its striking visual theatricality, which director and designer (Yannis Thavoris, excellent throughout) exploit to the full.’
Finally, in the Spectator Michael Tanner noted how well the design worked across the three different operas:
‘designer Yannis Thavoris has produced a set of which the main ingredient, a heap of miscellaneous broken or discarded objects, remains throughout the evening, while other props are introduced that are sufficiently striking to create a quite different mood as the curtain rises on the three little operas.’