Donnacha Dennehy: The Last Hotel
Label: Cantaloupe Music
Pierson, Alan; Manley, Katherine; Boyle, Claudia; Crash Ensemble; Adams, Robin
Reviewing the 2015 world premiere of composer Donnacha Dennehy and playwright Enda Walsh's opera The Last Hotel, The Guardian's Kate Molleson was smitten by "a dark drama in which death hangs over every move – the titular hotel is a shabby establishment where guests go to kill themselves." That description alone is all the listener needs to appreciate the visceral energy of the performances captured here by Claudia Boyle, Robin Adams, Katherine Manley and actor Mikel Murfi (whose presence as the silent Porter is more implied than directly felt), all ably supported by the agile, dynamic sound of Ireland's renowned Crash Ensemble, conducted by Alan Pierson. Modern musical theater has consistently pushed against the boundaries of what constitutes "opera," in the traditional Western classical sense; The Last Hotel is firmly rooted in that vanguard, merging the grit and gall of experimental theater and independent arthouse films with the crackling trajectory of post-classical chamber music.