Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grand opera sucks

I am in the same room with a video of Lucia di Lammermoor by Australian Opera, starring Joan Sutherland.

Now I thought I had a vague idea that I'm in the same basic industry - with a slight difference of scale of course, like a Diamond Valley Railway air brake techie looking up to George Westinghouse.

But I'm NOT. Or if I am, please shoot me now.

Seriously, if any daughter of mine made the sounds Joan is squealing out the speakers right now, I'd have her over my knee and lay into her with a strap. And if any son of mine made the gurglings her brother is making, I'd tell him to sit up for goodness sake and open his mouth properly when he's talking.

It's not even as if they were trained in the Josephine style of singing (which consists in la-la-ing all the vowels and allowing the consonants to take care of themselves) and are making a nice vowel sound. That would be OK, I can appreciate a good sweet voice even when it's singing rubbish. (Hey, I even enjoyed Orpheus and the Merry Widow...) A good sweet face helps too. ;) But the voices and faces in our recent Pirates (eugh, how quaint! You do comic opera! I am so sympathetic...) or even our slightly less recent Iolanthe were so completely superior to this as to be beyond comparison.

And they keep dropping out of character! How many bloody curtain calls do you need? Every second song seems to get one! For goodness sake stay in character until the END of the show! If you want to do a concert version go ahead, but don't mix concert and performance, it's very unprofessional.

Not that the curtain calls are badly rewarded. If AO had a dollar for each clap they wouldn't be losing money. If we had as many for Pirates we would have encored With Cat-Like Tread no matter what James and Martin thought. So what exactly are the audience applauding? Not her clear diction. Not her dramatic acting. Not the composer's skill in putting together a catchy tune either. It must be that they felt that they'd paid a lot for their ticket and sore hands at the end of the show is part of the value they get from it...

Or else it's a big claque.


Chris Angelico said...

Well, if the only taste you have of grand opera is Joan Sutherland, you're going to come to that conclusion. You really should have come to LDL when Suzy Shakespeare was playing the role. You'd have enjoyed it a lot more, even though that production was, in deference to the space, weird.

Michael Angelico said...

Yeah whatever. Give me double chorus counterpoint at patter speed any day.