Sunday, January 20, 2013

This will count as twitter's favourite hashtag: #middleclasswoes. But I was getting anxious that I was too much of a culturally void heathen to appreciate opera.

You'll all be faint with relief to know that - culturally void catastrophe averted! - I can apparently turn my heart to feeling pretty fond of it when the occasion allows.

PHEW I hear; a collective exhalation. She, who listens to Classic FM and only likes plays with swear words in them, has some sliver of delicacy and musical appreciation lurking somewhere deep within her soul.

I'm relieved, I tell you.

The volte face may be explained by an opera that, I gather (knowing nothing of this art form) was actually rather special.

Maria Stuarda by Donizetti.

Directed by a man called David McVicar at the Metropolitan Opera House and considerately filmed and beamed to screens around the world so The Poor would watch it too.

It was much aided by the fact that I've just gobbled down Wolf Hall, have the sequel on order from the library such was my fondness and have resorted to Philippa Gregory in the interim. As I (surprise) remember nothing from being taught Tudor history by two of the foremost historians that this country can offer (fie and for shame and she still took in nothing), these two more populist works proved very informative. I wished I'd realised how interesting this period of our country's life was when I was in more of a position to indulge it. Still, if wishes were horses n'all.

The opera, anyway, was magic.

Beautiful set. The NY Times was a bit scathing.

I thought it was both beautifully (richly - MAN they've got so much money) costumed and stunningly set. The little elevating and disappearing platforms on the stage were used to great effect. (You got backstage views in the interval to entertain us. My oh my the space!) It was very nicely lit. I particularly liked the measley little windows peeking onto the stage during her confinement scene.

I must confess to a little nap. But you'd expect that of me. I woke at the end of the first scene to a sharp whisper from Mother: "did you see the table disappear? How quickly they did it. Amazing." I suspect a pretext to wake me that was less blunt than "wake up". But it did the trick and I stayed alert for the entire remainder. (Awake enough to note all the sly little sideways glances she cast in my direction for the ensuiing scenes to be sure I was still alert. What a disappointment of a daughter.)

And how glad I am. For even to my silly uninformed uninitiated ear, the singing was pretty amazing. Mary Stuart was played by a wonderful girl called Joyce DiDonato. Seems she's one that can both sing and act. I am even verging on envious.

Lizzy was pretty good too. (Elza van den Heever.) I liked her stridentness. And she sang nicely. The Earl of Leicester had been - dunno, something romantic - in The Flute (hark at me - opera buff) a few weeks back and he did have a silky voice then. Somehow his silvery silky costumes showed it off to better effect in this 'show'. (Bet you can't say that about opera.) I hated Cecil - he was sly - purposefully I might add - so I didn't like his singing either. Philippa Gregory has shown me that he was a Bad Man. But I did like Talbot who was played (sorry, sung) by a very tall Englishman called Matthew Rose. He had a kind  face. And a nice voice.

And the girl who played first clarinet was really great too.

All in all, a treat. And I'm cured! Great thanks to Mother for persisting with me.

Les Mis on the other hand. Well, it's very good. Hugh Jackman. Very well done, that man. But eeee my goodness, it's awfae long.


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