2 August 2013

Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2013 Day One opened on a high

I discovered the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival in 2011 when I went to one evening's performances. I was so impressed that last year I went to four. This year I have booked for six!

The heavy schedule of concerts, six evening is just over two weeks, means that I'll have to be brief on my write-ups. I am sure nobody minds that.

Gala opened the show positively.

The festival makes a point of including half-formed and unfinished ideas and ideas that do what they want to do quickly and do not have the urge or the need to expand to anything grander or fuller. Gala is one of these collection of ideas that fuses a simple story with puppetry and a mechanical Salvador Dali in a box.

Gala is a lady, with a surly maid, who is looking for a man and she finds one, Jesus Christ Superstar who is only after her money. It is all very weird but wonderful too, especially Becca Marriott's singing as Gala.

I liked it a lot.

Soon was one of those pieces that could be expanded further, though I loved it in its short form. The idea is simple and brilliant. It is set on a train and explores the lives of some of the passengers.

We meet many people with just a cast of four singers all of whom were good. Leading the way was Kate Symonds-Joy mezzo-soprano who, as the narrator, had the largest role. It was a pleasure to be able to congratulate her personally at the bar afterwards.

The stories were inconclusive fragments, as real life is, but the whole came together wonderfully. I loved the music too.

The End of Civilisation As We Know It was very strange and very good.

It started before we went in to the studio, though we did not know that at the time. Waiting in the reception area we could hear exaggerated operatic singing, this continued as we went in and it became clear that she was singing directly to us and she told us to stand up and hug the person next to us.

The screen at the back of the stage then came to life and we saw the singer, in a mask, with a man who we quickly leaned was plucked from the audience.

What followed was an interview where the woman, Lore Lixenberg, sang the questions in high-operatic style and the man responded well with some good lines.

Somehow Leon Michener managed to accompany this unscripted half-song on the piano. This must have been hard work as at the end he lay down on the floor while, in their hidden room, the interviewer and interviewee closed their eyes are rested.

It took us a while to realise that it had ended, there was no curtain call, and we crept out confused and happy.

My Day One of Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2013 was all that I had hoped it would be, and more. It was much weirder than any opera has any right to be (and that is a very good thing), the three pieces were very different, and the music and singing were lovely.

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