Three Oranges

On Saturday night to Opera Australia’s production of the above.

Is it really 11 years since it was last on?

Well, yes, it is.  And whereas the 2005 production was tied up with a recording deal with Chandos, a comparison of the casting says something about where Opera Australia has gone since 2005, even allowing for the revival casting factor.  Not least because in 2005 Opera Australia actually had a music director.

To me the glory of the piece (notwithstanding the striking production) is the brilliantly inventive orchestration.  That’s a bit problematic at the Sydney Opera House given the constraints of the pit.  Where I sat, up close, the problem was overcome, though there were still points where I thought the characterisation could have been more sharp: I wished at these moments that conductor Tony Legge could have been just a bit less imperturbably mild-mannered. But my gosh he and the orchestra had a lot to deal with and I don’t want my comment about those moments to suggest that it wasn’t still very exciting.

The singing was fine – some bits finer than others.  The group of the chorus known as “the ridiculous ones” relished in the chances Tom Stoppard’s snappy English translation gave them to engage directly with the audience which is not always the case for the chorus.  I remain a bit ambivalent about why they had to be so extremely camp (a bit like the “French Mistake” chorus boys from the neighbouring sound-stage in Blazing Saddles) but I suppose it was comedy and, as they say, can’t you take a joke?

I intend to listen again (well, actually, for the first time) to ABC Classic FM’s broadcast of the previous Thursday’s performance, which is available still for a few weeks.  If I were feeling richer, I would probably try to get to one of the three remaining performances.  Apart from the final Saturday matineee, each of these (on Monday and Wednesday) still shows up as having about 700 seats going begging.

As ever, you have to wonder what Opera Australia thinks it is doing with these seats.  It’s not as if can seriously be taken by surprise by this state of affairs and indeed Mr Terracini almost delights in declaring how such works lose money for the company.  To let the seats go empty may vindicate Mr Terracini, but it is the Government’s money  which is being wasted.  Where’s the governance?




2 Responses to “Three Oranges”

  1. Eliz Says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the empty seats…why not offer them to music students, or any students really. But perhaps current offerings would put them off opera rather than teach them to love it. I don’t know much about the company but I think they must have got rid of any strong woman who may have been on the team because their offerings have become misogynistic and I have stopped attending. (The last example I saw was the excruciating Ring Cycle – wonderful orchestration and singers, but banal/obvious production. Who would have known that Wagner liked women?) Never mind, I go to lots of other wonderful concerts here and travel elsewhere to see opera I can love.

    • marcellous Says:

      They are offered to students on the night but that won’t really do the trick: people need a bit more time to plan because the outlay is still significant (it’s $50 plus a $5 or so booking fee (the SOH takes its cut) for a student rush.) And to tell the truth not so many music students are actually all that keen to go to performances: they want to play themselves, and need to be at home practising or at rehearsals!

      There could and should in my opinion be a middle path at prices higher than those offered to students but offered with a more feasible time-scale: at present the house ends up being papered by Friends and friends of employees and people in the business. Target of this could be people that OA already has on its books who can be made a special offer; the SSO does this from time to time.

      At the time of this reply (Mon night) still 577 seats going for Wed.

      I’d say the jury is ever going to be out on Wagner and women: bottom line is probably that his art always came first.

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