Middleburgh Does Opera
Last year we didn't get tickets to the opera at the Arts Festival. This year they were the only tickets we got so this afternoon we are off to get a culture top up.
This year there were 3 chinese and 2 western (5) operas to choice from, the latter performed by the Latvian National Opera including one written by Dimiti Shostakovich in 1934 (when he was 28) that apparently pissed off Joesph Stalin with result that it was supressed for 30 years - it merits attending if only for that !!
Apparently it has all the classic elements - bold and extreme music, sex, betrayal and murder. According to yesterdays review by Natasha Rogai in the South China Morning Post the leading lady Olga Sergevatra (as Katerina Izmailova)"rises magnificently to the challenge" (?), " her acting is equally exceptional (as her powerful voice which can range from stridency to heartrending lyricism) and she is devestating in the final scene. In fact the entire cast gets favourable plaudits with Sergey Nayda and Samsons Izjumovs and the Orchestra under Gintaras RinkeviciUS being singled out. (don't you just love these names!!)
The performance lasts about 3.5 hours so we should be culturally tanked up to last until this time next year. The question currently under consideration is whether we should go for a Russian Meal afterwards ??
To be added after the performance/meal.NB may post it here
and then again maybe not !!! :)
In deference to Joe Stalin's memory I decided not to betray my proletarian roots by dressing up for the perfomance - I wore jeans and a lumberjack shirt. On the way in we discussed who was likely to fall asleep first. I lost by a nod.
The plot may be summarised thus:
- Act 1 : Sex - It got off to a slow start but just prior to the first interval I realised that Shostakovitch had written "bonking music" or more precisely "music to bonk by" Not suprising since he was 28 when he wrote the piece.
- Act 2 : Murder - Frankly I found this a bit sexist : The wife murdered her father-in-law With rat poison and the lover murdered the husband by strangulation using his belt. A bit cliche and not even the year of the rat. During the interval however we debated hotly over whether the father in law had a real/unreal paunch ie was it a falsie. The baseline taken was my paunch which I fimly assert is "unreal". Strangely enough we had consensus on that point (?)
- Act 3 : Punishment - well I can see why Joe gave this opera a thumbs down: The act starts with the militia complaining that no one has bribed them (sufficiently) and after the arrest of the murderous lovers, depicts their forced march in shackles off to the siberian gulags - a vison that both stalin and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would have recognised. And the final scene where Katya chokes/snaps Sonyetkas neck prior to offing herself was done with style. I wondered whether she had any SPETSNAZ coaching ??
Unlike last year I didn't get traumatised during the interval by the audience. Maybe because the Opera was performed by Latvian's (and not sponsored by the British Council) there was a distinct lack of the "YAAH" brigade, in fact the audience seemed remarkably civilized. Not all the seats were taken and I believe that unsold seats had been offered at a discount to university students. There certainly seemed to be a lot of bright young people there with an apparent high standard of education yet without any traces of British Public School. The two girls who sat next to me were students and a topic of converation. My wife and I could not agree on whether one of them had a pointy or roundy nose (this is a chinese thing) personally I thought that although they both had nice noses (I would not complain if the boys brought either home) neither was as good as my wife's (#3).
Labels: London, Macbeth, MIDDLEBURGH, Opera