GERALD BARRY (b.1952): The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
Catalogue Number: 10R072
Label: Discovery Music and Vision
Description: Barry's third opera sets the entire text of Fassbinder's play and film from 1972. The all-female cast enact a surreally dysfunctional web of relationships, centered on the delusional obsession of the narcissistic title figure with a young female model. The action, and the self-absorption of the characters, are claustrophobic, all taking place in Petra's apartment and through the dialogue of the characters, each interpreting the situation according to their own desires and preconceptions, and Barry's characteristically exhausting style amplifies this sense of the oppressive selfishness of the characters. As usual, the music is jittery and hectically active with constant changes of time signature, frantically active, fast and abrupt, the staccato vocal utterances like bursts of machine-gun fire. The composer's sonic palette is unique; very tonal but highly confrontational, invariably orchestrated in brash, martial timbres that entirely avoid even momentary repose or relaxation and that emphasise the characters' hostility - including the mute character of Petra's personal secretary and servant Marlene, masochistically accepting - or as the music seems to suggest, not so much - her mistreatment at her employer's hands, whose actions are always signalled by a vehement intensification of the orchestral activity. 2 CDs. Libretto included. Rayanne Dupuis, Mary Plazas (sopranos), Stephanie Marshall (mezzo), Deirdre Cooling-Nolan (contralto), RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; Gerhard Markson.