From Morning to Midnight - David Sawyer - English National Opera

Also premiering at the Coliseum in May 2001 was David Sawyer's new opera From Morning to Midnight, based on George Kaiser's 1972 play reduced to a 100-minute opera. (The orchestra was conducted by Martyn Brabbins. ) But Sawyer (who was also the librettist) and director Richard Jones have produced a superb contemporary drama from the play.

It tells the story of a lowly bank cashier in a little German town, who inspired by a "glamour puss" Italian customer, steals a huge sum of money from his employer, and feeling suddenly liberated goes on the run for the nine hours. The money buys him precisely nothing and corrupts nearly everyone who comes into contact with it. The cashier eventually commits suicide in a Salvation Army Hall. The production is in turn macabre and hilarious. Memorable highlights include a bicycle race and scene set inside a seedy night-club where the hostess ends up being ill all over the cashier. John Daszak gives a virtuoso performance in the main role, as does Linda Kitchen as the night-club hostess who is also the world's worst pianist! Susan Bickley is particularly funny as the Salvation Army Office Clerk and Kathryn Harries was excellent as the "Glamour puss" that inspires the theft.

For some strange reason, the chorus wears colourful masks - sort of Balaclava helmets. I get the impression they are bank cashiers posing.

Sawyer's music is punctuated by typewriter "castanets".

There is much humour in Scene 4 when at lunchtime the cashier returns to his wife, daughter and mother. Daughter (Linda Kitchen) begins to tape out the Tannhauser overture on her synthesiser, making mistakes in every bar. Wife (Susan Bickley) breaks into song with the immortal line "it's time I fried the chops"!!Mother (Menai Davies), as shocked at the others at the changed character of her son, expires operatically with her knitting needles (more "castanets") in front of the TV. I laughed and had a most enjoyable experience.


Verinha Ottoni.


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