18 August 2013

Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2013 Day Six was magical

All too quickly it was my sixth and final visit to Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2013 and, by my reckoning, these were my fifteenth and sixteen operas in just over two weeks.

The Hidden Valley was the closest thing to a full opera that I saw during the festival. Not only did it tell a complete story but it also ran for about an hour and a half.

It was a fairy story about a river goddess who falls in love with a human against her father's wishes. He turns her in to a series of animals but despite this, years later, the lovers are reunited.

The story teller was a crow, just to reinforce the magical element.

There was a cast of nine with a breadth of voices that gave a richness to the sound. In contrast there were just three musicians (piano, harp, percussion) who provided a light almost staccato background.

Some effort was made with the staging though I never expect much in a festival like this. There were some perfunctory trees on stage but we had to imagine the river, which was fine. It was all neatly done.

The Hidden Valley is the story of Ariene, the river-goddess, and Laura Pooley was superb, especially when mimicking the various animals that she was turned in to including a beetle and a when.

It was all rather magical, as it was meant to be.

Dart's Love had a similar theme (though I had forgotten that), which made it the idea companion piece.

Put simply, the story was river meets man and falls in love, man falls in love with woman, river kills woman, man runs away never to be seen again.

The tale had a strong touch of the ancient myth about it but the music was fresh and modern. The four musicians were placed in the four corners of the river and plucked and blew in short bursts to make a series of sounds rather than a continuous piece. It was still music, rather than sound effect, and added to the atmosphere of the piece.

Dart was played by three women on swings. It was original and effective with their swaying suggesting the movement of the river.

Dart's Love was a lovely short story, it lasted about half an hour, that was enchanting to watch. It was one of my personal highlights of the festival and an excellent note to end on.

I was not in a rush to get home and was loitering in the bar area, as you do, when I was invited to the after party by one of the organisers who recognised me from my frequent visits.

I could not stay long, just long enough to finish my beer, but that was enough for a couple of final operatic flings.

First we had a repeat of one of the Lite Bites that were performed around the festival. These lasted about five minutes and were usually performed in the reception area. The blood on her apron reveals that this was not a happy story.

The final final piece was Nancy's Lament, this being the Nancy of Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist. This was meant to be unusual, and was. The music was provided by a lone guitarist who was then joined by a Dixie Band and a parade that moved through the audience.

It was a shame to have to leave though I left with a happy heart, delighted at what I had seen over the previous two weeks and already anticipating what Tête-à-Tête might do next.

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