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
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
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.