Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Black Comedy and Rumba; Our Man in Havana - Greenwich Theatre

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Black Comedy and Rumba; Our Man in Havana - Greenwich Theatre

Article excerpt

Byline: BARRY MILLINGTON

NOT quite a great composer, Malcolm Williamson was nevertheless Master of the Queen's Music from 1975 (he died last year) and has a perhaps surprisingly large following.

His operas, like the rest of his works, are neglected and it was an interesting idea of Trinity College of Music to stage his first, Our Man in Havana, based on Graham Greene's novel of 1958.

Since the work was first performed at Sadler's Wells in July 1963, it was also a timely anniversary celebration.

One would like to be able to say that the opera is a modest masterpiece, displaying an innate dramatic talent for which Williamson has never been given due credit.

Sadly, however, this brave staging serves only to prove how superficial the work is.

True, Williamson catches something of the hilarity of Greene's black comedy in his lively, lyrical wordsetting, laced with local colour and the rhythms of rumba and habanera.

But occasional felicitous touches are no substitute for rich characterisation and musical memorability. …

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