COMPOSERS: Robert Moran
LABELS: BMG Catalyst
WORKS: The Dracula Diary
PERFORMER: Laura Knoop, James Maddalena, Ray Very, James Scott Sikon, Jill Grove, Michael ChioldiMembers of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra/Ward Holmquist
CATALOGUE NO: 09026-62638-2 DDD
Like all self-respecting manifestations of post-modernism, the releases on Catalyst, BMG’s new-music label, have so far been hard to categorise. The only generalisations that can be made are that the releases have been slickly packaged, and that with just a couple of exceptions the music they’ve contained has been very poor indeed. Certainly Robert Moran’s The Dracula Diary, to James Skofield’s libretto, reinforces both prejudices. Premiered in Houston only in March last year it has appeared on disc with indecent haste to provide yet more depressing evidence of the record companies’ belief that the only new music really worth promoting is the kind of sanitised minimalism that makes the fewest possible intellectual demands.
The scenario of this vampire chamber opera is neatly plotted, but Moran fills every scene with inventions that are consistently obvious, matching plodding accompaniments to predictable melodic lines and generating absolutely no dramatic tension. The first-rate cast from Houston Grand Opera is led by Laura Knoop and the ever excellent James Maddalena, but there are so many more deserving music-theatre works from both sides of the Atlantic that could have made it onto disc in place of this one, ithard to summon up any response other than anger at the sheer banality of it all. Andrew Clements