A young cast breathe life into Cavalli's opera in this new production at Snape Maltings.
You would hate to share a flat, let alone a palace, with any of the female protagonists of the trio of baroque operas which make up the staged section of English Touring Opera's autumn season. Take, for example, Medea, the princess witch of Colchis, who so fascinates Jason, the titular hero of Cavalli's 1649 opera. You wait for her to get her comeuppance – but of course she never does.
Ted Huffmann's production uses the Ronald Eyre translation, which I remember from the Buxton Festival production of 1985, and his young cast, thanks partly to the pin-drop acoustics at the Snape Maltings, make every word as well as every note count. The small pit-lodged period orchestral forces of the Old Street Band under Joseph McHardy balances the vocal forces.
The vaguely modern costumes and bleached-out atrium setting with its perilously steep staircase are designed by Samal Blak. The desolation of Isiphile's life on Lemnos contrasts with the superficial elegance of Medea's home. Against these two settings, Hannah Pedley's vocally and physically seductive Medea weaves her enchantments, with a little help from Michael Czerniawski's Delfa.
Jason in this version of the story is very much someone to be manipulated and, when he does take decisive action, it's of the least pleasant variety. Clint Van der Linde manages both his melodiousness and histrionics with Andrew Slater's Hercules goading him towards adventure and then having to deal with his leader's one burst of indirect action.
Isiphile's spy Orestes (Piotr Lempa) and Demus (Stuart Haycock), who serves Medea's rejected and nobly unhappy suitor Egeus (John-Colyn Gyeantey) are the traditional comic servants, purveyors of light relief and earthy humour. Isiphile herself is moving in Catrine Kirkman's finely sung portrait; you feel she really deserves better at the hands of the gods.