Archive for August, 2014

A little life

August 27, 2014

Cat in a pot

Cat in box

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Elixir

August 25, 2014

Last night to Opera Australia’s production of Donizetti’s Elixir of Love, directed by Simon Phillips.

I was shocked at the state of the house and made a remark to one of the ushers. “It’s the third time,” she said, by way of an explanation.

That’s not much of an explanation in the brave new world of opera-Terracini where everyone, judging by the rate at which familiar works return, is assumed to be a first-timer.

Last time was in 2006, when I saw it. I was living in Perth at the time of the first Sydney outing in 2001 and so missed it.

The present return is possibly the most strongly cast.  It’s a shame that Rachelle Durkin was indisposed for the opening night because, despite whatever praise the critics heaped on Jane Ede for stepping in, Rachelle is a woman with a very special comic talent on top of her musical gifts.  I think of her as a kind of soprano Bruce Spence.  Of the other principals, only Samuel Dundas seemed a little light on vocally by comparison, though his stage presence went a long way to make up for that.  Simon Parris went later and so saw Durkin, which makes his review the most accurate.

The production itself is delightful and more, from the sets, costumes to the comic business which, for once, ocker surtitles included, (though from my front row seats I only occasionally glance up at them) is genuinely funny.  And with the famous Una furtive lagrima, the work itself takes a masterful step from the comic to the romantic.

So why so few people?  When I looked on Sunday afternoon, of the two remaining weeknight performances, 786 (on Wednesday) and 802 (on Friday) of a total of 1441 tickets were still available for sale. The final performance, a Sunday matinee, was faring slightly better with 415 tickets left but as matinees go that is a very poor house.

Maybe Mr Terracini has been too busy selling next year’s season (and himself) to the world to notice.  It is likely that people aren’t prepared to fork out the big money required for what they expect will be a mildly amusing night’s entertainment.

Whatever the reason for the present situation, there isn’t much sign of OA doing anything to shift the remaining seats by way of reduction of price.  Which, as ever, is a scandal.