Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Don't panic, it's not all about me.....need to have a quick chat about some Ghost boat thing.

If you regularly read this drivel you may have noticed that I have a penchant for opera at the cinema. I like seeing opera in this way because the atmosphere in a cinema compared to an opera house is so chilled out and the place is unlikely to sell out so you tend to find yourself having a whole row to yourself and nobody notices if you fall asleep. Always a bonus.

I used to love opera. I still appreciate it but I can't say I love it now. To be fair watching in a cinema is no substitute for seeing the genre live really. The sound in a cinema, no matter how good, can never replicate the power of the voice of an opera singer going at full pelt. There are advantages though. As long as you don't have a chorus who feel it necessary to react to every tiny little thing, being up close, in the middle of the action can be quite exciting. Having said that you are at the mercy of the editor as to what you get to see as they will decide what we as an audience need to see at any particular moment in time but that's just a small quibble.

I am not a fan of Wagner. Last night I saw, in it's entirety, only my second Wagner opera. I saw "Die Walküre" a couple of years back, again at the cinema, and last night I saw the ROH production of "Der fliegende Holländer" with the mighty Bryn Terfel and Adrianne Pieczonka. The singing was stonkingly good, truly fantastic. Bryn was brooding and dark while Pieczonka was hopeful and bright. I have always loved Pieczonka. I think she has the most incredible instrument housed in her body. It is a big voice but because of the shimmer she has at the top you never feel like she is beating you over the head with it the way some dramatic female voices do. She is also a stunningly good actress. It is an overused phrase these days but she really is a true stage animal. 

These two giants of the operatic world were joined by another giant but one who was feeling a little under the weather so an announcement was made at the beginning to ask us to bear with him. They needn't have as far as we in the cinema were concerned, Peter Rose was actually on good form. Totally holding his own as Daland with the other two even if he did resemble a Sontaran from Doctor Who. The chorus, too, were better than I have heard them in a while. The regular chorus were joined by a large number of extra chorus members and I kind of wish I had been in the theatre itself as at one point the stage was filled with men. Don't get the wrong idea, I wish I had been there because the sound must have been enormous.

All in all, I enjoyed it and the two and a bit hours, no interval, flew by. It was a surprise when the end came as it felt there should be another hour to go. This was where I got confused. I wasn't totally up on the story before I went to see it but I knew the legend of the Flying Dutchman and figured that Bryn Terfel's character was probably not going to get the girl, well not in the conventional sense anyway. I am assuming Senta is supposed to be seen doing summat she shouldn't with Erik to make the Dutchman spurn her and set sail alone but in this production she didn't appear to do anything (I might have missed it of course). Then I assumed, after Senta yells after him (The Dutchman that is) that she will remain true to him until death, she would probably kill herself but she just carried her little model boat, she had had since the beginning, to the centre of the stage and cried a bit. A total anticlimax.

That said I had a nice time. Still not convinced by Wagner though. Now, feel free to stop reading here as I am going to write a teeny tiny bit about my cabaret that DID happen on Sunday. So if you are fed up of hearing about it please go about your business and think no more about it.

There was a good turnout, about 44 people turned up (mostly friends or friends of friends, I think there were only 7 people who had no connection to me in attendance) so it was more successful in that respect than I had been expecting. It was only once it was done that I realised what an undertaking it had been. The running times were 45 minutes first half and 40 minutes second half. That is a LONG time to hold your own. I totally understand why people invite "guests" to join them on the stage during these affairs. Takes the pressure off a bit.

Everybody asked afterwards "did you enjoy it?". The honest answer was no, but not in a bad way. I didn't hate it and I want to do it again, and I want to do it again soon, but as a friend said to me, Sunday night was like having your tech rehearsal, dress rehearsal and first night (and last night) all at the same time. This was the first time I had tried out the show. In the future it might be an idea to rent a small hall and invite a few friends to come and see it for free just to give myself the opportunity to try out my material to see what works and what doesn't. To be fair there wasn't much I would change in the material I had but I hope I can deliver it better next time. I forgot a lot and got a bit lost at times, however, I am not terrible at getting myself out of a hole so I don't think I made any of my audience feel uncomfortable when I lost my way.

With hindsight, I am SO proud of myself for getting up and doing it. There is a huge difference between doing a 25 minute set on a bill with 3 other acts and what was, effectively, a one-woman show with 90 minutes of just me (and, of course, the wonderful Simona Budd on the piano). This was an immense achievement and one I need to do again. Who would have thought that 4 years of opera training would have led to this.

If anyone is interested in reading someone else's opinion of Sunday night then follow this link:

How did it come to this? The Pheasantry

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