The King and I and I

On Saturday night with D to this musical.

As far as I recall this was part of my “Opera” Australia subscription package – I don’t think I had exchanged the ticket for another date. If so, looking around me, it seemed that I was in the minority.

Judging from the mood of the audience as we left, everyone enjoyed it. I spotted more than a few people dabbing tears from their eyes and indeed I was one of them – tears of sentiment rather than sorrow. That’s a tribute to the book and the music as a heartstring-tugger, even though, on the way through, I wondered what I was doing there – what everyone was doing, oohing and aahing at children and chuckling at “What-what-what” and “Et cetera” running gags.

The first half drove me to drink: it went so slowly (it was a long wait to “Getting to know you”) and squirm-makingly that I had to resort to the hip flask to get me by. The second half was better, with the striking dancing and costumes of “Small House of Uncle Thomas,” “Wonderful” and “Shall we dance.”

As for the cast, Lisa McCune was reasonable (OK, better than that) though vocally a little light on at the top: she moves well. The King’s part is scarcely a singing part so Teddy was rather wasted in it; his gym-fitness came in good stead. It seemed to me Shu Cheen Yu sang “Wonderful” at a rather higher pitch than it is usually set: she showed what a real singer can do even if a few of the words were hard to make out. The juvenile tenor was a bit underwhelming. The conductor (the cast list flyer gave two names without saying which it was) conducted from the piano score. (Just saying.)

South Pacific was much better.

If Opera Australia want to do musicals, I have decided they can do them without me there. In fact, that is evidently the case: there are plenty of other people who are happy to go. I just wish they could go somewhere else and that musicals weren’t driving opera out.

2 Responses to “The King and I and I”

  1. Ken Nielsen Says:

    I don’t think that the OA musicals are driving opera out. If they are profitable to OA, they should be contributing to the production of operas that aren’t profitable.
    The argument should be about OA’s artistic decisions – what it doesn’t do that it should.
    I think LT’s heart is in the right place and he’s got a very difficult business problem to manage. Perhaps the government’s review will flush out some of these facts.

    • marcellous Says:

      Ken, I agree that is one way of looking at it. But they do displace opera at least in Sydney and in particular the more rarefied stuff which used to come at the end of the season.

      A big part of what OA has to offer Mr Frost in Sydney is its preferential right to the venue. If that is only de facto, there may come a day when the SOH Trust decides to get between OA and Mr Frost or indeed hire the hall out to some other entrepreneur for this time instead of to OA since, after all, they’re not putting on opera there then so what makes them so special? At this stage the time period available probably isn’t long enough for free-standing blockbuster shows, because the ballet arrives in November.

      I have been reading of the public debate which LT joined in against his Canberra critic. I thought it doubly ironic: first because of that critic’s role in relation to the School of Music, but secondly that LT told off his critic for not arguing factually before producing his own batch of not particularly transparent figures (eg: does he include the musicals as part of his audience for opera?). OA’s practice is to keep its figures pretty close to its chest.

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