Vic Hoyland

First reviews of Crazy Rosa in London

Various reviews, 1990

The première of this music theatre work was given by Lontano, conducted by Odaline de la Martinez, with Linda Hirst as soloist at the Lilian Baylis Theatre in London on 1st February. It is based on an episode from The Worker Knows 300 words, The Boss Knows 1000 — That's Why He's The Boss written by Dario Fo in 1969: a Sicilian woman relives her son's death at the hands of the Mafia after he discovers a spring in a region stricken by drought. The story is told through many voices, speech and song, to be performed in epic style, it is never naturalistic. Hoyland said of the music: 'My aim has not been to set the text. The music runs as a stream parallel to the text and maintains its own intensity in response to the story.'

The three performances received critical acclaim from the London press:

'It is finely wrought, glinting, sparingly-written music, emotional without being effusive, and with an aptly Italianate flavour. There are memorably striking passages, such as the very opening, which has the sudden energy of an uncoiled spring; and the protagonist's quiet sung interludes are touching.'
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times

'It is a virtuoso vehicle which Hirst performed with total commitment ... the sounds were piercingly well imagined, sharp-edged and rugged as in the best of Hoyland's music.'
Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer

'Linda Hirst, keeping up a torrential flow of English and Italian both sung and spoken, centres the performance on vocal and facial expression — as a primarily music feat of virtuosity it needs only the minimum of staging to make its impact.'
Robert Maycock, The Independent

.. dramatic shape has always been one of Hoyland's strengths, in his instrumental as much as his theatre pieces, and 'La Madre' moves in a beautifully proportioned curve; the switches between the vocal modes are finely calculated and the textures full of his spiky rhythms and edgy, potent sonorities.'
Andrew Clements, The Financial Times

A further performance of the work can be seen at this year's Cambridge Festival on 15th July, when the performers will be the same as for the premiere. Also in that programme will be Berio's Folksongs.