Apparently, she was the foundress of Naples.
On Tuesday to see Opera Australia’s production of the Handel opera. It’s a joint production with the ENO. It won an Olivier Award in London for “Best New Opera Production.”
Handel operas are apparently still a bit of a big ask in Sydney. If you go to the Opera Australia booking page you can see these days how many tickets are left, and frankly, it’s not very encouraging. Friday’s performance is no longer available, but I noted down the following figures for the remaining performances and made my own tally:
||Stalls Front (427)
||Stalls Rear (460)
||Circle & Loges (596)
That’s 2000 seats still for sale for 4 performances.
Incidentally, can you see the stand-out show? It’s the matinee on the 26th. They’re a loyal audience, that matinee audience. There is a much better concession price for children at matinees but my guess (I hardly ever go to matinees) is that it’s mostly the forced loyalty of the elderly who can’t manage to go out at night. Good on them, though I doubt if they are going because they are an inherently more adventurous bunch than other opera-goers (that’s another aspect to the forced loyalty).
It will be interesting to see whether Opera Australia chooses to follow the Sydney Symphony and tap into this audience on weekdays – it’s a trickier proposition than for the orchestra because the scheduling is harder, but it must surely come as the audience gets older.
But back to the opera. Really, the production is the thing. It’s mostly about spotting the reminiscences of Man Ray photographs. I didn’t buy a program so I can’t otherwise judge the dreaded (on account of what he did to Tosca) Mr Alden’s reason for the surrealist slant. Maybe this is very unfair to Handel, but because I have few preconceptions about his operas, I’m pretty fine with their being treated as a regisseurial blank slate.
For me the music was enjoyable but, in the first act in particular, rather generic Handel. It wasn’t until the second and third acts that he seemed to summon more piquant affects and orchestral effects.
On Tuesday, Sian Pendry stood in for an indisposed Catherine Carby. She did a good job, more than good enough, though obviously I have no way of knowing whether it would have been better with CC. Otherwise, it’s very much a vehicle for Emma Matthews. Jacqueline Dark was able to put her ample bosom to good use at the denouement (think: Das ist kein Mann!) and as the enraged spurned lover made a good impression (I mean: vocally but also by way of comic timing). I don’t laugh so much as others when librettist Amanda Holden drops into vulgar colloquialisms (eg: “Don’t be a turd”), though I have no objection to them either (which is probably why I don’t find them particularly funny). I thought that Christopher Field had come along quite a lot from when I last heard him, which I think was as Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare.
This isn’t a role/roll call and I am not a critic, so I won’t go through the remainder of the cast, even though there are only 2 more.
I know that for some people, Handel operas can be too long. That’s not a problem for me, because I take a nap before, and the music is always of a quality, even when generic Handel, that I can be entirely engaged by it. The more music the better, so far as I am concerned. It may even be that by the second and third acts I had just adjusted to the style of the production and the music, and so was able to appreciate something which I had at first felt as merely generic.
[Just in case I should be accused of elegant variation: generic generic generic generic generic…(usw)]
Given all those empty seats, I’d like to try to see it again to put that hypothesis to the test.
That will probably depend on budgetary considerations. It is therefore self-interested of me to say that it is maddening to think of all those empty seats unsold at a price which, ipso facto, no-one will pay.