Our opera-buddy group can turn into an echo chamber at times, hence Why other people love opera. In the interest of balance I thought I’d point out a couple of recent reviews that present the exact opposite view to mine:
Perception is a funny thing, innit?
This unusually picture heavy post is meant as a lure to Glyndebourne for all of you who read this blog but haven’t been there yet. They were gathered over the past three times I’ve been there this year.
As Team London boarded the Glyndebourne bus (you can see it here, posing at Lewes station), the host let us know that we had brought back the sunshine – the weekend had been atrocious. Indeed, the rain returned yesterday in great form – at least in London. Today is all right.
But Monday was a gorgeous day, and as we sat down for cake and prosecco we decided it definitely felt in the low 20s rather than the expected 18C. That’s Summer in England for you, counting your blessings when the thermometer reads 21C 😉 to be fair, the first part of July was scorching. All two weeks of it!
Southern Rail, who operates the trains that take one to Lewes, has gone (together with its passengers) through a very bad year. I heard that last year Glyndebourne had to bus its audience from Haywards Heath to the Glyndebourne gardens (that’s about halfway from London), instead of just from Lewes station. Luckily, this year things went well, though I understand Southern Rail service is still iffy. We boarded an earlier (than recommended) train to Brighton and then took a connection from there. I’m telling you this because it is one of the several (cheaper) routes from London into Lewes.
It was a bit windy, but then again, it’s in the middle of the countryside. We sat on the grass on the other side of the manor, by the auditorium, so we had the chance to hear the singers warm up and even chuckle a bit (they didn’t rehearse any arias per se that I could tell and you know I can tell). We were also right next to the camera crew and the presenter rehearsing for today’s introduction to the livestream. I pretended to be too cool for school and didn’t take any pictures of that 😉
We overheard the presenter mention something about the “James Bond theme” and we looked at each other like say what? Before the show there was a talk given by the Costume Crew which we did not attend because it’s nicer outside. So whatever the Costume Crew was on about went straight over our heads. I couldn’t imagine something further from Tito than James Bond but who knows…? We were wondering who exactly would James Bond be in Tito? Surely not the strangely Trump-like Publio… So from a random piece of info to a random picture:
During the intermission I was a bit too excited to eat, but somehow managed to put away a couple of kebabs (thanks, Leander!) and quite a bit of cake (thanks, Baroque Bird!) by the end 😉 Due to the lovely weather we were able to leave our blankets and things outside (these days you need to check your picnic basket in if you’re not leaving it on the lawn, but most do).
I think I was trying my best to be informative in the post about the performance and didn’t hammer on just how excited I was to hear the overture unfold. In fact it felt a bit unreal but then the curtain rose and everyone tried to manage the reeds and the puddles and before I knew it we got to the act I finale. I don’t know if the marshy bottom layer of the stage is supposed to be Glyndebourne-y or not – because of course the marsh makes sense anyway – but I will reiterate how much I liked the feel.
I have since read Tim Ashley’s Guardian review and I didn’t understand what he meant by “in reimagining the Roman populace as civil servants on the make, however, Guth loses sight of the wider political implications, giving us little sense that lives are at stake beyond the corridors of power in which the drama plays itself out.” I didn’t take it the chorus are meant to be civil servants as much as self righteous mob, which I think does indeed hint at the lives at stake – if the beehive mind has so much say in what goes and what doesn’t, well, then you get Brexit.
But for me Tito has always been about personal relationships and the delicate balances within a close knit group. I wouldn’t usually think too much about the wider implications, though I admit perhaps I should (that would also explain the hitherto rather perplexing motley and meddling chorus in the classic Salzburg Tito).
But let’s get back to the garden, the furthest side of it, where things start to get a bit wilder:
In keeping with the mix of wild and nostalgic feel of this production:
Glyndebourne has posted a podcast on Tito with their current team (none of the singers, though), featuring music from the 1993 Harnoncourt recording (and not their own recording, for some reason). Usual readers aren’t likely to hear many new things but at least it’s clear that teams have left behind the old school slight embarrassment at producing Tito and are now focusing on the music (how it’s different from the other things Mozart composed in his later years) and what it’s about.
Aside from the 3 August Glyndebourne livestream (6pm London time), Tito will appear at the Proms (semi staged with the same cast) on Monday 28 August at 7pm London time. All I’m going to say about that is the broadcast will be a much better deal than the actual Royal Albert Hall acoustics.
Given that I haven’t been to Glyndebourne in a few years, I don’t know if this general booking system is new or not. In any case, you apparently can’t sneak in before the appointed time. Though I got in 14secs after 6pm, I was #622 in the queue. Luckily I was tag-teaming with Baroque Bird, who was in the 300s already. So Team London will be there for La clemenza di Tito on 31 July (Glyndebourne will broadcast the 3 August performance) and yours truly will see a couple more shows (Hipermestra and Hamlet in June plus another go at Tito in August). Let’s hope for clement weather 🙂
edit: we now have Annio (Anna Stéphany) and Publio (Clive Bayley). Interesting that Stéphany is Annio, seeing as how she’s already sung Sesto. But I do rather see her as Annio. You may remember I saw Bayley as Aye in Akhnaten last year and when I say saw I mean it. It’s going to be nice actually hearing him 😉
Important: next year, General ticket sale will start at the unusual hour of 6pm on Sunday, 5 March. They really want to keep us at home on a Sunday afternoon.
- Hipermestra (Cavalli) 20 May – 8 July (new production)
Conductor/ Orchestra: William Christie | Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Emöke Baráth takes the title role.
- La traviata 21 May – 19 June and again (different cast/conductor) 1 – 27 August
Kristina Mkhitaryan and Joyce El-Khoury take the title role.
- Hamlet (Brett Dean) 11 June – 16 July (new commission)
Conductor/ Orchestra: V. Jurowski | London Philharmonic Orchestra
Cast: Allan Clayton (Hamlet), Sarah Connolly (Gertrude), Barbara Hannigan (Ophelia), Rod Gilfry (Claudius), Kim Begley (Polonius), John Tomlinson (Ghost of Old Hamlet)
Badass cast, I wonder about the music.
- Ariadne auf Naxos 25 June – 27 July
Conductor/ Orchestra: Cornelius Meister | London Philharmonic Orchestra
2015 Operalia Winner Lise Davidsen takes the title role. So young and already Ariadne! I am as usual tempted to go but…
- Don Pasquale 13 July – 23 August
Conductor/ Orchestra: Giacomo Sagripanti | London Philharmonic Orchestra
- La clemenza di Tito 26 July – 26 August (new production)
Conductor/ Orchestra: R. Ticciati | Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Tito: Steve Davislim
Vitellia: Alice Coote
Sesto: Kate Lindsey
Servilia: Joélle Harvey
Leander and I have already talked about picnic-ing for this one (and probably Hipermestra as well). Anyone who wants to join us is more than welcome!