Archive for August 27, 2007

All you need is…

August 27, 2007

…a simple stage set and a few props that can (literally) be packed in the back of a van,  a six-piece band, a small cast of young singers (singing in English), and a garden somewhere, and you have the ingredients for a performance by GARDEN OPERA (oh, and good weather is a help).

I’ve just walked home from the Old Observatory Garden in Greenwich (a magic setting), with a song in my heart, a lump in my throat, and — oh dear, is that something in my eye? (sniff)…  This was a performance of La Boheme, one of sixty performances on Garden Opera’s summer tour, and it was wonderful.

As a corrective to over-elaborate productions at *ahem* the Royal Opera House and elsewhere,  Garden Opera is about the essentials, stripping away distractions such as lavish settings, chorus, supernumerary actors and production ‘Konzepts’;  what remains is the essence of the opera, the music, the storytelling and the emotion.

Of course you also need a company whose members are all totally dedicated to what they are doing (on a shoestring), and an arranger, conductor and director with a clear idea of what they are aiming for.  Garden Opera is a shining example on all fronts, and has given me some of my most intense operatic experiences in recent years (including the most moving Magic Flute ever — and the only one in which the Queen of Night also played Papagena and [if my memory serves me] the serpent;  a mind-stretching Don Giovanni;  and a Carmen with a stomach-turningly realistic and unexpected murder only a few feet from where I was sitting). (more…)

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