Review: “Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel”

This is a thrilling and very scary production. I loved it! I was literally gripping my seat…I haven’t seen anything so dramatically and musically accomplished for a very long time

“Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel” is part of the ENO’s commitment to supporting new operas and presenting works that appeal to a large and diverse audience. This one is a winner!

The production tackles its horrific subject matter head on. It unflinchingly depicts the pitiful and harrowing lives of the working class, uneducated, women who lived in Whitechapel in 1888. During this period poverty was regarded as a criminal vice, and women as mere chattels.

It charts the bloody reign of Jack the Ripper, focusing on five of his victims. These women were all in their forties, down on their luck and working as prostitutes. It explores the camaraderie that existed between them and the community the Ripper stalked. It goes some way in restoring the humanity and visibility of those women.

Right from the start, Ian Bell’s atmospheric score draws you into the dark labyrinth of the women’s precarious lives, revealing its humour, bravado and brutality. The fluid complexity of Bell’s beautifully executed composition illuminates the individual characters, as well as their interactions. It gave me goose bumps.

Emma Jenkins’ libretto is poignant and heart wrenching. “None but the lonely heart can know my sorrow” – a quote taken from one of the actual victims’ headstone – still haunts me.

The five central characters are beautifully created and sung with vocal dexterity and sincerity. It’s a star-studded cast and not one of the performers disappoints. Including the forty strong chorus.

This is an opera that will appeal to people who usually don’t go to, or like opera. If you’re a fan of drama, suspense, horror and an entertaining night out, don’t miss it. I suggest you take a friend…there will be lots to talk about

“Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel” runs 3-12 April

Booking: eno.org 

Box Office: 0207 845 9300

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.