Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Off from work early again yesterday but no serenade from London Yoof. The ROH was the same though except this time it was Lucia di Lammermoor, a completely different kettle of fish.

It was a thoroughly accomplished production musically, but directors just can't resist fooling about with the staging can they? Some of it worked really well – such as the ruined castle scene and the beautiful diorama used throughout to emote the skies of Scotland, but I can't actually aimagine Donizetti ever scribbling in the directors' notes [ . . . inserisca la scena lesbica di bondage qui . . . ] . I'm not complaining; that sort of thing really makes an evening at The Garden for me, but I don't think Woman With Very Firm Views On Opera sitting behind me appreciated it much – I could feel her disdain sizzling through the back of my head.

But it was still very good. Edgardo (Marcelo Alvarez) was a bit of an opera hack – bit short, bit fat, long hair, and did a lot of bunched finger kissing at the end, but had a fine voice (as you’d expect), even if he did ham it up a bit. No such problems with Lucia (Andrea Rost) whos famous mad scene was delivered with a great deal of care, acting credibility and technical accuracy, so as to come across as not too overblown while still seeming, well, mad. The problem with LdiL is not the music – definitely Donizetti at his best, but that the plot doesnt make a whole bunch of sense, and as there is a lot of singing and a reasonable amount of slightly hoakey plot to be got through people tend to act in ways that seem a little bit peculiar. Even for opera. Consequently if you're not careful with your acting and characterisation Lucia going bonkers and killing hubby seems more than a tad unlikely. If you then compound this with an overblown mad scene the whole thing becomes farcical. I can happily report that this didn't happen and that while a certain level of suspension of disbelief is required nothing was too ridiculous, largely due to Rost' sensitive and commanding performance.

The other important question to come out of the evening concerned the subject of fire. Last night very unusually we (me and Mac) were in the posh seats on the ground floor as opposed to being practically hanging off a scaffold attached to a vertical wall, somewhere in the vicinity of the troposphere. So, should a fire break out where would you want to be? Logic would say down low, but let’s look at all the angles. Up high the average age is a lot lower (possibly even under 40) but downstairs it sure ain’t. The general walking speed was about ‘I'm going to kill you right now if you dither anymore’ so being stuck behind that lot while the flames lick higher behind you . . . well you might not die from the fire but you could easily suffer an embolism out of sheer frustration. I think though I’d still rather be on the ground floor. After all you could easily fight your way down 7 stories of panicking Wagnerites and then still get stuck behind the massed hordes of the comfortably retired. Alternatively one could hope that the ROH was sufficiently fire proof after the £500M refit that this is no longer a pertinent question, but wtf knows?

And speaking of which one hears that the Venice Opera House is now open again – hurry hurry, hurry. If you want to see something go now – this place burns down on a regular, not to say suspiciously regular, basis. Something to do with unpaid ‘debts’ perhaps . . . and pick where you sit carefully as well ;-)

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