As one who is not the most familiar with the genre of opera, I perceived that I might be the ‘Lost’ component in the Corinthia Hotel London’s Found and Lost. However I was excited to see that Emily Hall, this year’s artist in residence of the hotel, has composed this divine clash of the modern and traditional in the utopian environment, which is what makes this piece so intriguing through the entire tour.
We are presented first with the stunning interior of the Corinthia Hotel London – an unblemished immaculate foyer with roses and chandeliers in abundance. After we have been formally introduced to our guide, we are introduced to Oliver Coates’s beautifully melodic cello playing. Perhaps it’s my natural oversensitivity to music, but it is almost tear-inducing as the choir of eight classically trained voices sync together in perfect harmony and discord. The chorus perform almost in complete balance with each other, causing on-lookers and regular hotel guests to stare in confused awe.
After this, we are led through the hotel, through public spaces and not so public spaces, as we begin to see the layers of what lies beneath these perfect sheets. The words the musicians sing are taken directly from found texts within the hotel: from reports and wine tasting lists, to checklists and bed-making instructions. A lot of the words have new meanings given to them, which is a nice juxtaposition as we watch the scene unravel through the various walls.
This is where the genius within the piece lies. There are songs into which these texts have been tied with melodies, dramatisations or intricate rhythms, which allow us as the audience to see the many depths beneath the (maybe not so) unblemishable. There is a loose story to be followed through, which at the beginning is interesting as the interaction between guest and actor is somewhat jaded, adding much excitement to the piece. As we watch the story unfold through the depths of the hotel, it is interesting to see the chaos and the length to which the workers at the hotel will go to keep order – to pull the blanket over our head. I think that the piece could benefit from a slightly stronger narrative, as the drama seems to be a little too disjointed. It is clear that with the mixture of media in which the dramatic information is given to us, both live and prerecorded, some of the rawness of the piece is lost in translation.
What I particularly enjoy about innovative theatre such as this, is that I can walk out thinking “I have never seen anything like that, and I doubt I will see anything like that again”. Hall has created a uniqueness within this piece that makes it a work of performance art. I expect to see many pieces from Hall in the future that are just as, if not more so, intrinsically progressive and unique. And as a live opera virgin, so to speak, I enjoyed the piece and would thoroughly recommend it to music lovers who are looking for an experience that’s just a bit different.
Found and Lost is playing at the Corinthia Hotel London until 3 February. For more information and tickets, see the Corinthia London: Artist In Residence website.