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ClassicsOnline Home » RUDERS: Handmaid's Tale (The)
By Jed Distler
"In the restless, ever-changing world of modern opera, one seldom encounters a work whose musical, literary and dramatic components embody equal brilliance. Still more rarely does one find a work in which these components are unified into a sophisticated, grandly scaled and utterly gripping theatrical whole. The Handmaid's Tale is precisely this kind of work. Its bleakly futuristic storyline, astonishingly variegated orchestral palette and clear, vivid libretto seize your attention, provoke your sensibilities and engage rather than bait your emotions.
Above all, this is an opera whose dramatic form and musical sensibility emerge from the story and the characters' inner and outer needs, rather than a work whose style is set before the music is written. The Handmaid's Tale offers ample proof that opera remains a potent, viable and expressive medium as the 21st century finds its bearings."
By David Murray
"Dacapo's alacrity with Poul Ruders' new opera. The Handmaid's Tale, has been remarkable, and was surely fuelled by the whole-heartedly enthusiastic popular and critical reception of the piece when it was premiered in Copenhagen last March. The work is already scheduled at opera houses in several other capitals. To get anything like this amount of attention, a 'contemporary' opera has to be very good or very flashy. Rugers' opera is both. As a grim 'music-drama', at least, it is hughly effective; there are striking solos and ensembles too, but so closely geared to their moments in the drama that it's doubtful whether they could prosper as isolated 'Highlight from The Handmaid's Tale' on a single CD. No; what you need, if youÝre seriously interested, is the whole opera.The recorded version here is a well-edited composite from four of the original Royal Danish opera stage performances. It has live, gripping urgency, and the sound is terrific, as it had to be to capture Ruders' apocalyptic stretches - he uses a large orchestra with an exotic range of percussion and a lot of shattering fortissimi..."
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RUDERS: Handmaid's Tale (The)