Opera: Miss Fortune

By Stephen Pollard, March 15, 2012

Royal Opera House, London WC2

I cannot recall a new opera being more comprehensively trashed by critics than Judith Weir's Miss Fortune.

It stands accused of almost every flaw an opera can have: a feeble plot, derivative music, a static production, badly drawn characters and a banal libretto.

Yet the reaction from the first-night audience was very warm, with full-throated bravos and cheers. That was my reaction, too - what a pleasure to have a new opera that has something to say, is not an aural assault (it actually has some memorable vocal lines), and does not see the sole purpose of modern opera as some form of left-wing agitprop.

Are we to dismiss the worth of La Bohème or Falstaff because their plots could be readily understood by a four-year-old? The plot of Miss Fortune is not feeble, merely simple. A woman loses her fortune, is dogged by Fate (a character), and sees everything she tries turn to disaster. She confronts Fate and then reaches peace.

The real agenda of the antagonism directed towards Miss Fortune appears to be hidden beneath the insults. The opera, apparently, is "warm and fuzzy where it should be hard and edgy". That is its real crime. It does not play to the political prejudices of the critics.

Ignore that. Miss Fortune is a good evening out. It will not stir you like The Ring. But it is a diverting and entertaining opera, beautifully performed by singers of the calibre of Emma Bell, Andrew Watts and Jacques Imbrailo. And the sets are a treat to look at, too.

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Last updated: 11:55am, March 15 2012