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

Panic! Culture and the working class

A new report on the working class relationship with culture has been doing the rounds recently.
Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries (which you can find here (http://createlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Panic-Social-Class-Taste-and-Inequalities-in-the-Creative-Industries1.pdf) comes at the issue from the point of view of the working class and their opportunities to find careers in the cultural sector. I usually concern myself most with the audience aspects of this debate but this report does touch on matters that relate to that, too. The general issue was also recently making waves with respect to entrants into Oxbridge and with Owen Jones's huge Twitter spat about the class of those in the media. 
The Panic! report takes data from various sources and draws conclusions from it. Some of the conclusions are based on what appear to me to be oddly skewed impressions and some of the report sounds like an argument looking for a validation, rather t…

Emma Dent Coad - putting the record straight

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad has again used OHP as a tool in her battles against RBKC. This piece https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/cleaners-strike-living-wage_uk_5b6867a8e4b0de86f4a3b509 once again quotes figures that are manifestly untrue.

The first time she quoted these figures was in her 'After Grenfell' paper on poverty. A great deal of misinformation has been circulated regarding OHP's costs over the years and the amount of money the council spent. Inflating, misreporting and dramatising the cost of supporting public arts only adds to the sense of outrage, increasing the climate of fear around local authority support for culture. When these arguments appear, little reference is made to expenditure on other services the council provides. We are an easy target.

Emma Dent-Coad's "After Grenfell" paper tied OHP to the disaster and quoted a FOI report from RBKC that purportedly revealed the council had spent "£30 million over 15 years" on the…

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…