15 August 2012

A curate's egg from Tete a Tete

Throwing myself heavily in to the season's Tete a Tete Opera Festival produced a Friday night of mixed blessings.

The Magic Mirror/One Small Step was on first and proved to be a mixed bag within a mixed bag.

We had a long explanation of what Momo will be and then two songs from it. In the first Momo, a young girl, sings alone in a strange language and in the second she sang a duet with a young man strumming a guitar.

The second song was rather lovely and I would have liked to hear more from Momo.

Instead I got One Small Step where a couple sing about the joys of their child's first steps, their hopes that this might make them tired and sleep more and realisation that more things will now have to be put out of reach. It was a nice enough song but had nothing to do with Momo.

And that was it. Just three songs. Not a great start.

Next up was The Trial of Jean Rhys, a proper opera. The trial is Jean Rhys' hard life rather than anything criminal and we see this through flash-backs. This was not that obvious at the time and it took a quick scan of the Jean Rhys article in Wikipedia to confirm this.

The story may have been a little confusing (because of my lack of pre-research and refusal to buy a programme) but it was still a story and that makes it an opera in my mind.

The scenes flowed smoothly and the reasonably large cast played their parts well enough though I learnt in the bar later that most of them were students.

I did like the opera but, a few days later, I am struggling to remember much about it,

The third and final show was The Sandman, and this was completely different again.

We had the familiar story of one friend fooling another in to drinking weed killer which puts her in to a dream-like state where strange things happen.

In that context having the orchestra in their pyjamas is quite appropriate.

The dream, if it is a dream, is suitably weird with weird characters doing weird things. Like the centuries old cow singing about the moon.

From that you will probably guess that it was a story thick with humour though a dark edge stopped it from being frivolous.

The music was sharply modern with screeches and scratches that I loved.

Of the three pieces The Sandman had the most complete vision and delivered it more completely. The other two had their moments too and considered as a package it was another challenging and rewarding evening.  Not all challenges work but then they would not be challenges if they did.

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