More than a yard of tickets to the Proms!
The Nutcracker at Covent Garden. They don’t do pantomime of course, this is as near as they get in the Royal Opera House. Peter Wright’s choreography of Tchaikovsky’s ballet score is very family-friendly, there’s a live television relay worldwide of tonight’s performance and showings on television over the festive season. So what’s the point of being here in the theatre?
However much the technology improves, it doesn’t replicate the thrill of seeing these major performers just over there, direct line of sight, nothing in between. There’s no mediation: you see, sense and feel the performance as it is, in its entirety. For ballet it’s about the physicality too, these moves are athletic in the extreme, the concentration and the physical effort communicates directly to us, human to human, both the soloists and in the group pieces - tonight we had principals plus up to two dozen dancers all performing detailed, complicated dances in character with huge grace and in pretty near perfect synchrony.
Covent Garden market, the buskers playing a Mozart Flute Quartet, who knows if the adjacent production of The Magic Flute influenced their choice of repertoire.
Inside the opera house the familiar chords at the start of the Overture, laden with symbolism and foreboding presage some of Mozart’s most magical music. Curtain up on tonight’s revival of the 2003 production designed by John Macfarlane.
St. Bega’s church resounding once again to Baroque music; David Gibbs bringing the delights of Buxtehude, Telemann and JS Bach’s music to this ancient lakeside venue dating from around 950 AD. An appreciative audience, filling the pews and outnumbering the sheep in the field outside where the cars parked, heard a rich programme of excitingly chromatic pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the programme arranged in a symmetric format from Buxtehude to Bach and back again. Magdalena Loth-Hill (violin) and David Gibbs (harpsichord) finished the first part of the programme with an excellent performance of J.S. Bach’s Sonata BWV 1014, their ensemble and interplay fluidly throwing the counterpoint challenges between the players as the piece developed.
Not just dance and not just circus. This is dance with serious acrobatics, circus with character and all through social comment and much humour. Plus a dash of nostalgia for old Soho, including Madame Jojos and the quieter side of life in Soho Square. The language of dance and circus portraying vividly the rush of complex experiences and emotions of inner-city life lived to the max.
Curtain up in daylight on a brand new production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, a radical reimagining at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden of this much-loved opera. It took a moment or two to adjust to the setting in a modern era club, modern enough for smoking and plastic framed spectacles but still the era of notebooks, and Beckmesser’s blackboard and chalk.
The shock of the new is what Die Meistersinger is about and that also means us, the audience, confronted full-on with a revelatory new translation on the surtitles which highlights contemporary values (feminism and populism etc), a modern stage setting and even a more fluid, responsive musical interpretation than many recordings.