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https://www.eno.org/whats-on/chess/

Had been waiting for years for Chess to be revived, after missing the one-off semi-staged performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008. Had seen the original staging in London in 1987, for me something must-see, if ever there was a true "rock opera" this is it. After 15 mins we could tell that Björn and Benny of Abba must have had a classical music education :  the composition is as rich in its vocal varieties as in Mozart's operas - solo, duet, terzett, quartet, quintet, sextet, chorus ...... "exceptional, worth a special journey" in Michelin parlance !

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Thank you for posting, mnacenani. Would love to read your report about the new production when you see it!

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Posted (edited)

CHESS Coliseum London Saturday 28 April :  saw it last night - hearing the imho gorgeous music live after 30+ years was great, but cannot say I/we really clicked with this production. Have not seen any shows on Broadway, in Europe I think orchestras in London accompanying musicals are the best and are so wonderful - this show had something like a small symphony orchestra sitting on a platform backstage. Don't like amplification, both orchestra and singers were miked but maybe there is no other way to project the sound to the upper reaches of the huge auditorium.

We had seen the original London production sung by the unforgettable Elaine Paige, plus Tommy Körberg, Murray Head and Siobhan McCarthy. Can still visualise Paige and Körberg singing the Mountain Duet on the steep slope of the tilting stage. All the singers imho fitted the parts they played ..... something which I cannot say about the current production,  but other people may think otherwise. Svetlana being sung with a blues-type voice just didn't sound right for me. And some of the numbers, especially "I know him so well" were rather mechanically sung ..... like following the fixed beat of a metronome ..... "senza anima" !!

This production as can be expected was even more high-tech than the original was for its time :  two or three mobile cameras filmed the singers throughout the show with the "livecast" shown on big HD screens on either side of the stage. Overall it got big applause after the numbers and at the end - people seemed to have enjoyed the show. Press night is still two night away on May 1st so could not find and reviews on the web.

As ı had written in the heads-up I had posted above there were two nights of concert performance of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008. I had got wind of this in good time but my wife wasn't too enthusiastic and I had never heard of the singers before so I didn't book it. When I found out later that the singers were top Broadway stars (Josh Groban and Idina Menzel) I banged my head on the wall ...... how stupid can one get !!  Luckily it was issued a couple of years later on dvd as "Chess in Concert" and I was able to see it after all, though no substitute for being there. I understand this was telecast by PBS in 2009 and for those who missed it I think the dvd is still available on Amazon. A must-see, being a concert performance doesn't diminish its impact one bit, the music and the singing is sooooo good.

Edited by mnacenani

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Thank you so much for remembering to report back to us, mnacenani. How lucky you are to have seen the original production.  "Chess in Concert" continues to show up on PBS from time to time.

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