Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy has turned to opera in middle age, with two more operas having already appeared since the premiere of The Last Hotel in 2015. This one was well reviewed in a series of live performances, one of which, at Les théâtres de la ville in Luxembourg, is presented here in combination with studio material (the two are very artfully fused together). The operatic medium suits Dennehy well, especially inasmuch as he is backed by a very able librettist, Irish playwright Enda Walsh. The story has the seemingly grim topic of a hotel where people check in to commit suicide, but the crackling dialogue makes it less dark than it may seem. If you liked the film The Lobster, you'll be fine. Most interesting is Dennehy's music, which retains features of his earlier music but attaches them to the text in compelling ways. The opera shifts between music and spoken dialogue, with tightly constructed ensembles (there are four characters, simply denoted woman, husband, wife, and porter). Dennehy's propulsive style owes something to Philip Glass' vocal works, but the uses of sampling, other electronics, electric guitar, and lots of percussion surprises are something else again. Sample "The Rehearsal" for an idea of what you're getting into. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Last Hotel|