An American Streak

I am having a bit of an American streak, culturally speaking.

On Tuesday, I went again to see La Fanciulla del West. The excuse was an old friend up from Canberra for the week.

It didn’t bewitch me quite so much the second time around, though I could certainly go again, were money no object, to lap up the beautiful song and chorus in the first act about missing home.

The last act is set in a forest. There is a kind of conversation pit downstage right. This time when the curtain came up, there was a blazing fire in it. Neither D nor I could recall seeing it on our first attendance, though I’ve heard it was definitely there on opening night. What a trainspotter that makes me, or alternately, a hopeless observer. Even on the second occasion I went, I didn’t notice when the fire was extinguished. I suppose it must have been by the time of Minnie’s arrival to claim her man.

On Wednesday, D, my sister and nephew (visiting from WA) and I went to West Side Story at the Lyric Theatre. D judged it by the movie, so had to make some adjustments. I judged it more by my recollections of playing in the orchestra for a neighbouring girls school’s all-girl-cast performance when I was in about year 10. The main thing which I had not really absorbed at the time was how young the Jets and Sharks are meant to be. I guess I thought of them as young adults (and older than I) when I first encountered the work. My perspective has changed.

The alternative might have been to take my nephew to see “Wicked.” He would probably have enjoyed that more: he’s only 9 (or nearly 10).

It’s an honest production, subject to a budget sized orchestra and the usual evils of amplification, which had a deleterious effect on the style in which the part of Tony was sung. It seems we just don’t do Broadway tenors like that any more.

The streak continues. On Saturday, I go to hear David Robertson conduct the SSO in a concert entitled “Best of Bernstein.” So it’s a Bernstein streak as well.

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