DONNACHA DENNEHY (b.1970): The Last Hotel.
Catalogue Number: 04U062
Description: The Last Hotel is a most effective piece of storytelling, a fusion of operatic conventions and hard-hitting contemporary theatre, of the latter of which librettist Enda Walsh is a multi-award-winning star. The hotel of the title is revealed to be a run-down establishment, which seems to exist somewhere outside day-to-day reality, where guests come to kill themselves. An English couple in a bored, humdrum marriage travel to the hotel to meet an Irish woman, who turns out to be there to commit suicide with their help. Only vague hints of how these circumstances arose are given, lending the story a surreal quality that makes the already disturbing plot even more unsettling. Despite the tragic subject-matter, the libretto is leavened with moments of sharply observed humour, like the husband's pub-philosophical musings: "People tend to pile their plate - but not me. I respect the buffet. I get to choose." Dennehy's score matches the fast-moving libretto with unstoppable energy and a propulsive post-minimalist 'groove' (in current parlance). It is not for nothing that this release is on Bang on a Can's label, founded to promote “too funky for the academy” music; this gritty, obsessive piece fits right in with their mission, seething with savage rock 'n roll energy (and elements of its instrumentation in its punchy little ensemble) that sometimes bursts into the open, fracturing the veneer of numb, politely meaningless interchanges between the characters. Chilling and thrilling in equal measure. Libretto included. Claudia Boyle, Katherine Manley (sopranos), Robin Adams (baritone), Mikel Murfi (actor), Crash Ensemble; Alan Pierson.