Friday, March 14, 2008

Sing-a-longa Carmen and the abandoned author

Lord H and I have spent a wonderful day at the Glyndebourne Members' Open Day today, doing all sorts of strange and bizarre things. First off was the Sing-a-long Carmen session, where we all sat in the opera house and were put through our paces by the enthusiastic and rather too optimistic chorus master. Carmen from scratch in an hour - well, I certainly hit notes I didn't even realise I had though not necessarily at the time I needed them. I have also discovered that my skills at singing and clapping in the right place at the same time are utter crap. I just can't do it, dahlings. Not without medical attention and a strong tailwind. Lord H is much more co-ordinated in these areas. Ah, 'twas ever thus. However I fear that Glyndebourne will not be taking my number for consideration for next year's chorus line ...

We then wandered round through various talks and workshops. The man presenting "A Year at Glyndebourne" was extremely gripping - I never knew how much actually goes on in putting on an opera festival, and he was also wonderfully gossipy about which directors hated each other and the traumas of singing in Czech. This last gem concerned the Glyndebourne production some years ago of "The Makropoulos Case" where the amazing Anja Silja took the title role and gave a bravura performance every single time. And we know because we saw it twice and she was incredible. Apparently, at the dress rehearsal, everyone was weeping with joy because she was so very, very good - EXCEPT for the musicology and language coaches who were weeping because, even though it was marvellous, she wasn't actually ... um ... singing in anything remotely resembling Czech. Well, Czech is difficult at the best of time, m'dears, let alone having to put it to notes! The solution they came up with - apart from an intensive day's extra coaching - was to put post-it notes on all the props so Ms Silja could look dramatic and do her singing stuff whilst staring intently at yellow pieces of paper. And we, the audience, didn't have a clue - I just thought she was being incredibly focused.

The props and wig department tours were much more interesting than I'd expected too. Apparently, they like to use real human hair but the market is shrinking as Eastern Europeans become richer and don't need to sell their assets. At least not in that way. Hmm, perhaps some bright young and dodgy entrepreneur can leap in and create a hair-trafficking trade? It could do well. The props man is also fighting a determined battle with the director of this year's "Poppea" who wants a luxurious bath to roll out onto the stage and then fill up with water from the taps. Tricky to know where to put the pipes without the audience seeing them for sure.

And, amazingly, this summer's new commissioned opera, "Of Love and Other Demons", hasn't quite been finished yet. Though the composer does at least know how long it will be. Phew, that's a relief then. Everything is indeed done by smoke and mirrors here in the world of drama and song. And that's on a good day ...

So, we are now the behind-the-scenes opera experts - and I feel a crime novel set in an opera house coming on. No! No! Get back! Ye gods, some ideas are best left rotting in their own juice, I promise you.

Meanwhile back on the ranch, I rush to buy the Surrey Advertiser to see if I'm in it. Am I heck! Damn and blast it, I've been spiked again, Carruthers!! Oh the shame and trauma of it - somebody pass me a gin and let me weep ...

Tonight, I'm thinking (hell, it's the thought that counts) about doing the cleaning, and I'm hoping to edit more of Darshan for Goldenford too. And I've just finished Margaret Gill's young adult novel, Narwhal. I really enjoyed it - the main character, Gray, is very strong indeed and I loved him right from the start. A very nice mix of adventure, mystery and the supernatural, and recommended for the young adults in your family. Or anywhere else really.

Today's nice things:

1. The Glyndebourne open day
2. Editing
3. Reading.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers


Jackie Luben said...

I'm sure you'll be in next week, Anne. It takes a few days to sort out stuff for the next issue.

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Jackie! Actually I have my doubts - in the past they've run stuff on a week-by-week basis.