Tuesday, 24 August 2010

When a Man Knows

Saturday saw the successful second performance of my opera When a Man Knows as part of Tete a Tete:The Opera Festival at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. We had the same cast as last time, still a concert performance, but doing it in a theatre, with proper lighting made a great deal of difference. Also, performing the work for a second time was a great help. Present in the audience was Ian Caddy, who is directing the work when we stage it next year.

The opera received an enthusiastic response from the audience. We got some very positive feedback there and then, but the opera festival encourages feedback in a variety of ways so I look forward to receiving it.

Now that this second performance is over I can go back to my score, which is covered in notes from the rehearsals. These will feed back into the revisions which I plan in September.

And on Thursday we will be visiting the Bridewell Theatre, to start planning the staging!

Review of The Flying Dutchman

Whilst we were on holiday we visited the opera festival at Gut Immling in Bavaria, seeing The Flying Dutchman. My review is here, on Music and Vision.

Friday, 20 August 2010

1 Day to Go - Salutary experience

At last night's rehearsal for my opera, When a Man Knows we had that problem which everyone who works with singers has, at some time or other: one of the singers was ill. So I stood in a sketched in the part. It was a salutary experience. It is one thing sitting at your computer or piano and deciding on some rather tricky ideas, time signatures etc. But it is entirely another thing to actually try to sing them!

I am planning on revising When a Man Knows next month, ready for the staged performances next year. My score of the work is now marked up with verious scribbles where I am questioning the necessity for some of the complicated bits, or flagging that I ought to work harder to make the singers life a little less problematic.

We have our final rehearsal on Saturday morning, in the theatre at the Riverside Studios when we will actually be able to try out some proper lighting. I can't wait.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

St. John Passion

To the Albert Hall last night to hear the late-night Prom, the BBC Singers and Endymion under conductor David Hill doing Arvo Pärt's St. John Passion. The Proms marketing has consistently called last night's work the St. John Passion so I was a little unclear as to whether we were going to hear another work by Pärt that I didn't know. Of course, it was the familiar one which I know under the name Passio, which is of course a shortening of the work's full Latin title Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem.

Surprisingly the hall was by no means full. Despite the composer's popularity the work does have a somewhat uncompromising austereness and some of the people around us seemed to find the work a little too much (in fact there was quite a stream of promenaders leaving).

Brindley Sherratt sang Jesus with admirable firmness, authority and restraint. Andrew Kennedy as Pilate seem to want to be taking part in a slightly more operatic version of the score, which as I understand it goes against the composer's wish to create a more ritual atmosphere.

The four Evangelists were Micaela Haslam, David Allsopp, Stephen Jeffes and Stephen Charlesworth. All four were admirably accurate and musical, each turning in beautifully focussed and crafted vocal lines and blending nicely. My only complaint was that Haslam seemed rather quiet. Having heard him at the London Handel Festival, I was again very impressed with David Allsopp's beautiful high counter-tenor voice.

But...

I must confess that there were times that I had a certain sympathy with the fidgeters. The performance seemed to plod somewhat. Was it that the requirements of doing the piece in the cavernous Albert Hall was too much (though the work has been performed at the Proms before). Or was it simply that David Hill was too content to let things happen and not imbue the piece with more intensity. The BBC Singers were admirable in their effectiveness and dynamism in the the short choral interjections.

I can't help feeling that Passio is a relatively small scale work which would benefit from performance in a smaller venue.

Three Days to GO!


We are rehearsing tomorrow night in our church hall and then on Saturday morning we actually get into a theatre. So far my opera, When a Man knows has been both rehearsed and performed in churches. But on Saturday we will be presenting it at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, as part of Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival. This weekend is the last of the festival, so if you haven't been yet. GO!

We are, of course, doing the opera in concert. But doing it in a theatre makes a great deal of difference and it will be a great help having some atmospheric lighting. One of the striking things about the premiere in June was the disjoint between the bright airy nature of the church and the rather dark, abstract feel of the opera itself.

We are on at 3pm. See you there.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Apologies for the sparse postings. Last weekend we were in Boppard, a charming small town on the Rhine where London Concord Singers sang a concert a the Evangelische Kirche on the Saturday evening, followed by Mass at the Church of St. Severus on Sunday morning.

Recent CD review

My review of Marc Antoine Charpentier's David et Jonathans from Pinchgut Opera is here.

An appealing record of what sounds like a fascinating performance