Steve Smith, new music specialist on the New York Times, has given ENO’s Sunken Garden a warm reception, in contrast to the collective view of the local newspaper critics. Steve finds Michel van der Aa’s opera in some respects ‘positively old-fashioned’ and he rightly acknowledges that it divides opinion: Whether “Sunken Garden” represents a brave new world for an art form sometimes derided — wrongly — as antiquated and irrelevant is debatable.
His conclusion, however, is positive: Still, verisimilitude is not high among the qualities we generally demand of opera. “Sunken Garden,” despite its contorted revelations and desultory conclusion, is unquestionably a bold, rewarding venture that demands consideration.
Read the full review here. This debate will run and run, as will the opera itself.