Dennehy: The Last Hotel

Reviewed on Tue 16 Apr, 2019

Staged to acclaim in Edinburgh in 2015, the present recording, offering a truncated version of the opera, comes from a live performance at Luxembourg’s Les Théâtres de la Ville in 2017.

Evidence of Irish opera’s current resurgence comes with The Last Hotel, the first of a projected trilogy by composer Donnacha Dennehy and playwright Enda Walsh. Typical of both is Dennehy’s acerbically witty, electro-acoustic score and Walsh’s tautly direct, macabre-accented lyrics as they respond to a tale of an English couple embroiled in an Irish woman’s desire to commit suicide in the insalubrious titular lodgings. Staged to acclaim in Edinburgh in 2015, the present recording, offering a truncated version of the opera, comes from a live performance at Luxembourg’s Les Théâtres de la Ville in 2017. Featuring original artists and musicians, it has a lived-in, self-aware quality that produces vivid singing from Claudia Boyle’s woman with a death wish and the hapless husband and wife of Robin Adams and Katherine Manley. Crash Ensemble acquits itself with customary intelligence, crisply alert to the score’s idiosyncratic vitality and often becoming a willing participant in scenes. An invaluable record of an important moment for contemporary Irish opera.
–Michael Quinn