An Ambitious Movie-Adapted Opera With Sweeping Emotions Across Time

McDermott has a theatre tapestry that includes the likes of “Akhnaten” (and he’s now directing the “My Neighbour Totoro” staging on the West End). While maintaining his signature for abstractions, “The Hours” assumes a more subdued palette than his work on “Akhnaten” and “Satyagraha.”

Designed by Tom Pye, square sets represent each woman’s respective interiority and their time period: a drab mustard wall for Virginia, bright floral blues and yellows for Laura, and brick red for Clarissa. In Pye’s characteristic costuming, Virginia stands dour in browns and reds to suggest her closeness to the dirt; Laura wears silky blue with floral patterns; and Clarissa dons a confident veneer of bright white that belies her insecurities.

Both top-of-their-game sopranos, Fleming and O’Hara emanate sorrow and longing in their bones. With a heavy dramatic soprano approach, Fleming plays it cool and collected before events shatter her confidence. With a more buttery lyric soprano voice, O’Hara straddles the line between Laura’s dreams of escape or recommitment to her facade. But DiDonato’s earthly mezzo voice bellows a power and mania that keep the other two in her orbit (whether you sat on the highest family circle balcony or watched the live transmission). Their three voices blended for the finale weave a planetary alignment of emotions, almost like reassuring hand squeezes between the three, even if the trio never touch.

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