Heart of Darkness Royal Opera House,1st-5th November, Tel: 020 7304 4000
“The horror! The horror!”: the immortal line from Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novella Heart of Darkness is enough to send a shiver into the soul. Of all Conrad’s prodigious output it is the tale of riverboat captain Marlow and his search for the rogue ivory agent Kurtz that has seeped most deeply into the cultural fabric.
Although Conrad’s novels have been adapted into many different forms—films, television, radio and theatre—few of them have arrived as operas (with the exception of The Secret Agent earlier this year in New York). Utilising Conrad’s text from the novel and his Congo Diary, award-winning British composer Tarik O’Regan and librettist/artist/writer Tom Phillips have collaborated on a chamber opera that aims to explore the mystery of Kurtz, Marlow and his trip up the Congo.
Opera East Productions and American Opera Projects, New York, have acted as joint midwives to the one-act opera that receives its world premiere in London at the Linbury Studio Theatre. The eight singers and 13 musicians aboard will be led by Alan Oke, the highly regarded British tenor recently seen as the 89-year-old billionaire J Howard Marshall II in the popera Anna Nicole. Early reports from rehearsed readings and private previews in the US indicate that fans of Mamma Mia! had better steer clear. All together now: “The horror! The horror!”