Skip to main content

Thought for the day; Delicious Adriana


Yesterday, as the sun blazed, was a good day.
More importantly, I heard a blisteringly good sitzprobe of Adriana Lecouvreur.  Yesterday was a feast. I was like a kid in a sweetshop and it was entertaining to see the reaction of people who were in the theatre but who did not know Adriana, including more than one "it's my new favourite opera!". We of course did Adriana before in 2002 so we think we know it - and obviously, we do - but age and experience makes you listen differently and to hear the fluidity of the narrative music, the orchestral colours, the new interpretations of these particular singers and the very length, breadth and depth of the score is still - always - a revelation.

Outside the theatre, in the park, whose users we provide regular "free" concerts for during rehearsals and performances, people stopped, gathered, listened and chatted excitedly about this "gorgeous music", as if in shock that they had never heard something so sumptuous before, as if that could not be possible (e.g "surely I would know an opera so beautiful?"). One couple looked at the brochure and declared "this must be the Puccini one" (check the dates ladies and gentlemen). 

Of course, this last matter goes to the heart of something I have discussed quite a bit recently, namely the narrowness of audience repertoire choices, knowledge and assumptions. It is as profoundly depressing in late Italian rep as it is in Britten who during our recent Turn of the Screw found many "surprised" and shocked converts.

Cilea's music for this opera has that effect we will all recognise, when music will stop you in your tracks, interrupt whatever you were doing and just MAKE you listen. During the rehearsal, James and I had to discuss several things, just outside of the auditorium but still close enough to see and hear what was going on perfectly. It is unusual for both of us to be mute for long but it happened quite a bit as the cast and orchestra poured forth the melodies and the passion. And that is a nice feeling. You know that ridiculously febrile sensation when you see or hear something that you want to scream from the rooftops about, knowing that anybody else seeing or hearing it will be equally affected? Yeah, that one. Well, thats Adriana that is.

At a time when I am finding much to be miserable about in the opera world, yesterday was a vivid example of why I can sometimes claim to have a fantastic job; a hundred singers and musicians liberally broadcasting musical happy pills into the hot London air is not your ordinary day in the office.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Audiences will decide the future of opera

I have news: the audience will decide the future of opera.
When our season at Opera Holland Park comes to an end, I pore over spreadsheets trying to find reasons why our audience have behaved in the way that they have, and the most concentrated analysis tends to come after seasons during which our house has been full. The theory is this; if we have underperformed, we are programmed to find solutions, but if we have performed well, we are less likely to look for the gremlins that might lose us that ever-capricious audience in a trice – you are never more vulnerable than when you are successful.  Sometimes, though, one can miss the obvious, or perhaps ignore it.
In nearly three decades in opera, I have experienced one "boom" in the art form but an almost perpetual "crisis" of confidence, an alarmed perma-reflection on whether we remain relevant as an art form. This introspective brew is spiced by the occasional real crisis, like that recently at ENO, but we never reall…

XTC -This is Pop (Documentary, Sky 1)

The long awaited - and even longer overdue - documentary about the British band XTC felt to many of us who have considered them the best ever group to emerge from these shores, like a simultaneous roar of approval and a shocking great slap in the face, a sharp reminder of what we have lost now that they no longer record together. Apple Venus Vol.1 and Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol. 2) were released in 1999 and 2000 respectively and together represented the almost perfect distillation of British popular music. I hesitate to just call it "pop" although there are almost unequalled examples of it on both these albums and right through the XTC canon. Andy Partridge's lavishly inventive songwriting, lyrical brilliance and at times almost extra-terrestrial knack for a breathtaking melody or crushingly beautiful harmony seemed to improve and grow throughout the band's 14 album career. It came to a mighty zenith on those final two records. 
Followers of XTC were often torn betwee…

Time for patience and cold-eyed politicking

I was furious about the calling of a referendum on our membership of the EU.
I was furious when Leave 'won'.
I was furious when Corbyn enabled A50 trigger.

Then I thought a little bit about it.

I had spent goodness knows how many hours arguing with anti-Corbyn Labour supporters who ridiculed his chances in a General election, listening to them crowing in derisory, mocking fashion about the distance between him and May in the polls. I simply held to the view that he deserved, on the back of two leadership election wins in the face of horrendous back-stabbing and collusion among Labour MPs and the media, an opportunity to present a manifesto. Then we could judge him. I even made a bet on the eve of the election with an arch, mocking conservative – the prize being lunch at Musso and Frank's in LA – that Labour would force a hung parliament. He still hasn't booked the flights.

The reason I thought that possible was not just the manifesto, but that Corbyn had not take…