Notes & Reviews:
Philip Glass' one act chamber opera In the Penal Colony was composed in 2000. The libretto is by Rudolph Wurlitzer and based on a story by Franz Kafka. A condemned man is about to be executed. The Officer describes the execution machine to the Visitor, detailing its conception, its construction and finally its method. The method of execution is the most horrific and inhumane imaginable. The Officer's zealous dedication to this method is based on his belief that the machine has the power to bring about a moment of transfiguration in the victim, the moment they understand the crime they have committed. Scored for string quintet and two singers, this world premiere recording by the Music Theatre Wales under the direction of Michael Rafferty features tenor Michael Bennett as the Visitor and baritone Omar Ebrahim as the Offi cer.
This is a tough but worthwhile listen...If singers and players at times sound raw, it's fitting for this allegory of cruelty and the moral dilemma of being a bystander.
The repetitions of Philip Glass's opera make a perfect reflection of Kafka's verbal ones. Omar Ebrahim projects the fervour of a true believer as the Officer, Michael Bennett is the appalled Visitor.
BBC Music Magazine
Glass homes in with scary effectiveness on the officer's description of the machine...Omar Ebrahim's officer moves from robotic vibrato to loving devotion as Michael Bennett's lighter timbre darkens, and the quintet maintains momentum.
Bennett is especially impressive in the role of the visitor - the innocent bystander-turned-accomplice. Playing is not without its blemishes (the untidy conclusion to scene 9, for example) but in an opera which deals in stark detail with some of humanity's darkest blemishes, this becomes strangely appropriate.
Recording information: Angel Recording Studios, London (11/27/2010-11/28/2010).
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Works DetailsGlass, Philip : In the Penal Colony, chamber opera
- Conductor: Michael Rafferty
- Ensemble: Music Theatre Wales Ensemble
- Notes: Angel Recording Studios, London (11/27/2010-11/28/2010)
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Written: 2000