On Thursday we went to another instalment of the Tete a Tete opera festival. This time the party included the librettist of my new opera. We are currently mid collaboration so the operas in the festival gave rise to extensive discussion about what opera was and what we intended.
The first part consisted of 4 short operas from their forthcoming programme, Blind Date. The full programme will include 6 short operas all fully staged, here we saw 2 staged and 2 done in concert. Perhaps the most successful was the first, Feathered Friend in which a parrott (played by soprano Stephanie Corley, with a glove puppet on her hand), revealed the truth about a cheating wife (Susdan Atherton). Husband, Damian Thantrey, had such a close relationship with the parrott that the opera could easily have slipped into anthropomorphic surrealism. It didn't and perhaps it would have been even better if it had. My only reservation was that we laughed at the antics of the parrott but not at the parrott's music.
The middle two 'operas' were as yet unstaged, but seemed to be the ones most in need of it. Neither was overtly dramatic and both seemed to have librettos and music which were closer to choral music or vocal ensemble than dramatic opera. I will be interested in seeing what they look like in their ultimate form this autumn.
The final opera was both more dramatic in form and well staged. A curious fantasy about a Russian man searching for a new childhood nanny figure. Damian Thantrey was wonderfully amusing and touching in the main role.
After the interval we had The Girl Who Liked to Be Thrown Around, a monologue sung by Natalie Raybould, really a series of intercut monologues from the same character. A trashy girl who liked dodgy men. A brilliant short idea, it did rather go one to long, she made a few too many phone calls to her friend and watched the film Now Voyager once or twice too often. Still Raybould certainly impressed and I would like to see her in stronger material.
The final event was not opera, just cabaret; a lively and imaginative sax player called Jason Yarde, who is currently an LSO Sound Adventure Artist.