Compressed into just two hours, the plot never slowed, and the audience never lost interest as the evil vampire sought one victim after another, snatching brides on the eve of their wedding and condemning them to an appalling afterlife.
This was a superb production, with not a wasted moment, right to the final shock, which drew an audible shriek from some of the attendees at the Everyman.
What was most effective about Der Vampyr, in the capable hands of John O’Brien and Michael Barker-Caven, was the seamless blending of acting, singing, music and costuming. Every member of the chorus was an individual creature from a Fellini-like nightmare, each musician was a sign of the zodiac, playing to, and with, the soloists, sliding craftily around them as they sang. Suddenly, the traditional set-up of singers onstage, musicians in the pit, and chorus separate from principals seemed so very old hat. If this is new opera, then it’s devastatingly effective.
Icelander Hrolfur Saemundsson was spectacular in the title role, his superb voice given full effect by the highly dramatic acting demanded by this opera. Kim Sheehan, possessed of an exquisite soprano, made a moving Malwina, well-partnered with Adrian Dwyer’s Edgar, while Michael Druiett brought clever comedy to the role of Malwina’s unsuspecting father.
Welshman Ryan Morgan, doubling as Diener and George, has a remarkable stage presence and we will hear more of this young tenor.
For voices, for music, for setting — and, yes, for horrors aplenty and shivers up the spine — you won’t do better than Der Vampyr.