I must say that the Glyndebourne Touring Opera production of "L'elisir d'amore" last night didn't quite have the charm, colour or general pizzazz of the Opera South (Haslemere) production we saw earlier in the year. Nor the acting skills either. But it was a nice night out with some good tunes, and the famous aria at the end was beautifully sung, so a pleasant enough experience. I am thinking of writing to Glyndebourne though to ask why they insist on doing everything in shades of grey - is the costume department trying to tell us something? Really, it's a mystery. I would have thought that something with the punch and life of "L'elisir" is just crying out for reds and oranges, purples and greens, but not last night for sure.
Anyway, to today. Lord H and I have spent the day in the great metropolis (London, for the uninitiated ...). We were much taken by the moving pictures going up the escalator at Charing Cross Station - so modern! In fact, I shrieked out, "Look! Moving pictures! Whatever next?" Which caused (a) much amusement to the hardened Londoners around us, and (b) Lord H to reply (in his best Dorset accent): "Oo-ah, m'dear, these Londoners be strange creatures, you know. All we get in the country to entertain us is an evening's whittling. They be lucky up here for sure ..." Really, it's astonishing we weren't arrested at the Tube barriers.
The pictures of Scott's last expedition at the National Portrait Gallery were so cunningly hidden away that they didn't actually appear in the current exhibition information and I had to ask the manager to tell us where they could be seen. Which in a way is bizarrely fitting, I suppose. Not that many of them there either - only one cabinet - but definitely worth a look. Lunch at the NPG cafe was good too.
Afterwards, we trotted off to the Gielgud Theatre to see "Macbeth". But, alas, my second favourite man, the glorious Patrick Stewart, was too ill to perform and we had the understudy instead. Who was, I must say, very strong in the role, but I was still disappointed to miss Patrick. Sigh ... Still, he did come on at the start and apologise, and the poor bloke could hardly speak, his voice was so bad. It's a good production, for sure, and I can thoroughly recommend it. Some excellent touches with the witches and with Macbeth's final moments. Fab! Mind you, it is my favourite play ever, so I have to admit to positive prejudice!
Tonight, we have watched "Strictly Come Dancing", and were thrilled with the professionalism of Letitia's performance, and delighted to see that poor Kate can dance after all. Go, Kate, go!
Today's nice things:
1. Captain Scott, the ultimate icon of doomed courage
2. Macbeth, the most gloriously evil and gloriously human play in the world
3. Kate, the underdog makes good, aha!
Anne - I agree that Tim Treloar was very good - but did you notice that he left out "full of sound and fury" from the great final soliloquy?
Funnily enough, yes I did! Though I did wonder afterwards if it was a deliberate production choice, as if you're going to forget a line, I wouldn't have thought it would be the one everyone knows?? Even my husband noticed, and he's no Shakespeare fan!
I also didn't quite get the bit where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were getting ready for the banquet, and he suddenly put his hand on her breast for no apparent reason, they were silent for a minute and then he let go and carried on with the lines?? Maybe it's symbolic!
You might be right. But it did jar a bit. They also (sensibly, perhaps) cut the "mother, he has killed me" line from the Macduff family murder scene.
As for the hand on the breast syndrome, this was only one of a number of (largely successful) bits of business. Or maybe Tim Treloar thought this might be his only opportunity to put his hand on Kate Fleetwood's breast! I thought she was absolutely outstanding, by the way. Taking the interval at the precise moment when Banquo's ghost appears to Macbeth was a particularly clever solution to this difficult interpretational moment, didn't you think?
I also loved the witches as the nurses in the opening scene, although the Bloody Sergeant seemed to have a lot of energy for one about to expire, a bit like various Verdi heroes and heroines... I don't think the text leads you to think he is actually going to die.
Ooh, yes, I'd forgotten that line. It's a bit of a clunker for sure! And you may well be right about the breast thing (though I imagine Kate F would have a fair amount to say about it afterwards!)
And I thought exactly the same about the sergeant - a definite Verdi moment! Maybe he could have got a bit weaker earlier in the speech. He certainly does talk about his wounds at the end, so the death option isn't too unnatural.
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