Click here to return to the main site.

Classical Music Review

Cover Image

The Mask in the Mirror
A Chamber Opera


Composer: Richard Thompson
Conductor: Stephen Tucker
Performed by: The Sanaa Opera Project
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 08 February 2019

Composer Richard Thompson’s The Mask in the Mirror three-act opera presents the life behind the name of Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the most prominent African American poets of the early 20th Century. This dramatic performance, inspired by the hundreds of letters exchanged between Dunbar and his wife, Alice Ruth Moore, removes the masks of fame and social identity to investigate the psychological realities of the people underneath...

Richard Thompson's chamber opera starts off fairly averagely, but as the story moves forward it slowly builds into a truly incredible work. 'Act 2, Scene 3 - Paul and Alice at their friend Sally's apartment in Brooklyn' was one of the highlights for me. The dialogue is engaging, but it's the orchestrations that really shine through, on occasion being reminiscent of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

Driven by pivotal moments in the poet’s life, the chamber opera follows the arc of Paul and Alice’s relationship, from their courtship through letters, secret engagement and marriage, to their final estrangement and Paul’s death from alcoholism and tuberculosis at age 33. The dramatic tension of their personal relationship and story, fused with the broader questions surrounding identity, appearance versus reality, and grappling with the person in the mirror, makes this a moving story on the operatic stage.

It's an incredible emotive work of modern art. If you're a collector of operas then Thompson's work will be one you won't want to miss.


Darren Rea

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Digital album
iTunes GB
Digital album
Digital album