Now that it's over, I thought I'd share the 'unrehearsed' moments that happened in my performance, wondering, and betting in fact, that they happened every time:
1 One of the bells falling off Julian's staff and Dick bending down to get it (Julian says: while you're down there...) 2 Julian saying to Dick that one of his talents isn't remembering his lines... he peaked at the matinee this afternoon 3 Nigel coughing and Julian saying he should have a fisherman's friend 4 Nigel falling into the curtain and pulling it down during 12 Days of Xmas 5 The young boy saying to PZ 'I saw your lips move' and that Nigel was his favourite
I was there on the 30th December and 14th Jan evenings:
1 - nothing like that either night
2 - both times
3 - both times
4 - both times (obviously on purpose - the others wouldn't just be hanging out behind the curtain - but I loved it!)
5 - Nigel was second favourite both times! first time was Eileen the Cat and second time just the cat. Word for word with the seeing the lips move too!
I think the important thing to be said here is how brilliantly the company played all the rehearsed corpsing and such, unlike in that dreadful production of 'One Man, Two Governers' several years ago where I found all that kind of artificial production totally unfunny, even down to stooges who were supposed to be random members of the audience. But the clever players at the Palladium brought it off with much good humour, totally in the spirit of pantomime. God bless them all!
Nice to hear. He got a standing O for his tube song at the final show. Well deserved.
I know I have said it before but Gary Wilmot's versatility is astonishing. Anyone who can sing the tenor role of Joe (Don José) in 'Carmen Jones' and the bass role of Dick Deadeye in 'HMS Pinafore' (Regent's Park) and make them both entirely convincing is a genius. And furthermore, his Dick Deadeye in the cleverly adapted 'Pinafore' was the link between the audience and Gilbert's characters on stage and he made it menacing and funny and totally meaningful. Musical theatre accomplishment does not come much better than that – not to mention 'Copacabana', 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' and his other many successes.
I promise not to repeat this stuff about Gary Wilmot for at least another three weeks!
Doing a bit of research into the Kosky version (previously seen in Frankfurt) and it would appear that the narration isn't too jarring.
The visuals, on the other hand, might well displease those who want lots of Spanish colour. It is a very monochrome production and just a vast set of steps rather than scenic splendour and detail
www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlnCliZvvWE - my German is far too weak to understand most of it - but it gives a few glimpses of the aesthetics and direction - as well as some music that I don't remember from the two Carmens I have performed in!
Well, that's my earlier point precisely. Kosky's version is certain to be of interest to those of us who are familiar with the 'original' piece, but what impression does it make on somebody coming to the work for the first time?
As to the extra music, I haven't attempted to do any research but I seem to remember that when EMI made a recording of the opera with Grace Bumbry using what was meant to be the original version with spoken dialogue as Bizet wrote it for the Opéra-Comique it also included some music that was otherwise unfamiliar. And the more recent version with Angela Gheorghiu includes the alternative opening aria for Carmen in place of the Habanera. So there is certainly some other music kicking around apart from what is usually performed with the Guiraud recits.
I look forward to seeing reviews of the Kosky production when it is done at the ROH.
First of all Carmen has never been one of my favourite operas and there have been few productions of it over the years that I've enjoyed. I'm going to see the latest new production at ROH in two weeks and the pre-publicity is intriguing (alarming?):
'...Barrie Kosky's interpretation takes a provocative look at the many facets of this iconic woman....some cut passages have been restored, others amended and the dialogue replaced by narration.'
It's the last bit that sounds ominous.
I seem to remember a fairly recent production of 'Carmen' at the ENO where all the dialogue, both sung and spoken, was omitted. It was a disaster. I only went to see it because of the Australian tenor who was playing Don José, the rather rough and ready Julian Gavin. I can't find my diary note but I am sure I did not stay till the end.
My first 'Carmen' was a very routine production back in Sydney in the 1950s where the Carmen was an oratorio contralto called Florence Taylor who was totally miscast as regards the acting, but when I came to London in 1960 there was a sensational production at Sadler's Wells in Rosebery Avenue starring Joyce Blackham and Donald Smith. The EMI highlights LP with Smith and Patricia Johnson conducted by Colin Davis gives a good sample of the powerful production.
Oh, for ENO to get back to something like the musical and dramatic standards of those fine Sadler's Wells productions at Rosebery Avenue – but it ain't gonna happen, so I'd best shut up and get on with writing my memoirs.
A very satisfying performance at today's matinee. I was very impressed by Song of the Earth. The Royal Ballet have been dancing this forever but, I think this was ENB's first attempt, and very accomplished it was too. It is one of Macmillan's greatest ballets and I think I enjoyed it more at The Coliseum than at ROH - hard to put my finger on why but it seems to fit the 'oblong' stage better than at The Garden. I thought La Sylphide was pure pleasure from beginning to end. As tonyloco has mentioned it is a delicious campfest, particularly act one, and it was danced extremely well - the corps de ballet seem better drilled at the moment than the norm at Covent Garden. Another area where ENB show up RB was in the quality of the orchestral playing. The ROH orchestra often play at the highest international level for operas but most of the time for ballets they really can't be arsed. These days I go to almost as many ballets as operas and I would say the orchestra on average plays at 60% of their potential for ballets.
I'm really pleased that you enjoyed today's ENB matinee. I was in the front row of the upper circle last Tuesday and the orchestra sounded quite superb, not only for the Mahler but for the Lovenskiold as well. You are right about the ROH orchestra, but twas ever thus. Going back many years into the 1960s, it was sometimes painful to hear them scrape their way through Giselle after Solti had been flogging them the night before in Wagner or whatever. Scores like Giselle and Sleeping Beauty can be very exposed for the strings and I believe the orchestra used to think of ballet nights as rest nights. In fact, I can still remember one occasion when I and some pals were chatting to John Lanchbery in the Nag's Head before a ballet performance that was beginning with Stravinsky's 'Apollo' and he said: "I guess I had better go because I need to look over the score of 'Apollo'" I can only say from the rather pathetic sounds that emerged from the pit that he should have started looking over the score a great deal earlier!
If you need to build stamina for three numbers sure
Perhaps it's not so much building stamina as learning to sing the actual music as it is written. I remember one actor playing Billy Flynn who was so musically inadequate that the endings of all of his songs had been simplified. And he didn't even act the part particularly well either! Marti Pellow was my favourite Billy and he really knew how to sing that music.
Mr Snow, it's the beauty of this website that one thing leads to another and changing the end of Carmen has led to Robert Helpmann and Katherine Hepburn. I am about to change my avatar to show how Helpmann (and the Old Vic director Michael Benthall and designer Loudon Sainthill) envisaged Shylock. Of course these days we would probably have Glenda Jackson or Diana Rigg as Shylock for starters!
Don't forget that part of the magic of theatre is 'illusion' and things can be suggested without having to be shown literally on stage. If we took the idea of showing everything totally literally then the singer performing John the Baptist would need to be beheaded and his bleeding head presented to Salome. If we are satisfied with a mock head of John then why does Salome need to be actually naked, apart from to shock or tittilate the audience? Does a fully naked Salome serve Strauss's music better than if she is just pretending to be naked or semi-naked? I am assuming that the nudity referred to in this discussion is Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils.
I'm currently reading Tim Pigott-Smith's memoir, Do You Know Who I Am?, and I just came across a passage that struck me as relevant to this thread. He talks about having seen a production of The Taming of the Shrew, with Peggy Ashcroft and Peter O'Toole, in Stratford in 1959. [Pause for a moment of silent awe at the thought of what that production must have been like.] Then he says this:
"The Shrew has recently been bogged down in deadening sexual politics which kill the central motor of the play. You cannot allow modern moral judgements to subvert the ethics of a play. The racism of The Merchant of Venice might not be to our liking, but it is the play, and if you don't engage with it the play does not happen. Inevitably, you filter things through your own contemporary mindset, but you change the ethical motors within a play at your peril."
In 1955 in Sydney, I saw Robert Helpmann and Katherine Hepburn with the Old Vic Company playing 'Taming of the Shrew', 'The Merchant of Venice' and 'Measure for Measure'. They played all three pieces for all they were worth in the traditional manner and with hindsight I expect the PC brigade would have had a fit of the vapours, especially over Helpmann's Shylock and Petruchio, but they were brilliantly entertaining, although at the age of 18 I may have been somewhat green in judgement!
Have been looking into getting this card as the Bristol Hippodrome is my regular theatre - trying to figure out if it's worth it now :/
I don't know what discounts the ATG card gets at the Bristol Hippodrome, but I am certain that I have been saving money buying tickets at the New Wimbledon Theatre and the Richmond Theatre using an ATG card during the past two years or so to the extent that the annual fee is more than covered.
This production is in the TheatreBoard Ratings trial. If you’ve seen it please rate it.
I have just rated this four stars. Actually, I would like to make it four-and-a-half stars because although it was extremely enjoyable, I think it was just not quite at the five star level but I am finding it hard to say precisely why.