Accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Singers, last night Pet Shop Boys performed the world premier of their Alan Turing opera, A Man From The Future, at Britain’s Proms event at Royal Albert Hall. The Independent has posted a review:
Tennant stands by the choir for A Man From the Future, with fellow Boy Chris Lowe behind him in familiar baseball cap and shades, tweaking a laptop. Juliet Stevenson’s disembodied narration, drawn from Andrew Hodges’ Turing biographies, is almost overpoweringly dominant. But getting the tale of Turing’s singular genius and representative tragedy across seems to outweigh the balance between words and music. “Conform, rebel or withdraw” are the choices the public schoolboy Turing is presented with, as ominous strings close in to cage him. The remorseless glide of laptop-generated synth washes signal the machine-dreams which led him towards the computer’s invention. The BBC Singers then give the sensation of a dying fall, as the backroom heroism which turned the U-boat tide at Bletchley Park is passed over in a sentence. Tennant and Lowe aren’t interested in what Turing is belatedly honoured for now, but his shadow-life then. Bursts of hot, frantic swing follow him mentioning his homosexuality, and the furious swell of the choir’s baritones greet his downward spiral towards chemical castration by the state. His hot blood and mechanistic visions’ merging is expressed in the orchestral-laptop score. It is always, though, subservient to the verbal tracing of Turing’s fate.
Listen to the full performance below.