Saul - The Sixteen - Barbican Hall, 22 November 2011
The Barbican planners cocked up last night. As Handel competed with Opera North's Queen of Spades in the main theatre for the same punters, predictably neither sold out. I suspect the Handel fans were the best-behaved. No mobile phones, no crackly sweeties, no aria-applause, barely a cough - I haven't seen manners like this since Bayreuth. But then Harry Christophers didn't leave a millisecond of fidgeting space in either half - his greatest achievement perhaps being to integrate the musical interludes into the drama in a natural, flowing way. The pace was relentless but the focus was total, with just a brisk twenty minute interval cleaving the three and a half hours.