8 August 2014

Strange combination at Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2014 Day Five

My fifth and final visit to Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2014 was the least rewarding. I expect a few lows to go with the many highs when seeing so much experimental opera and, therefore, while a relatively uninteresting evening was disappointing it was not unexpected to have one at some point during the festival. The surprise was that it was this evening.

The Thursday and Friday programmes were the same and I chose to see what sounded like the best operas on the Friday. I also went on the Thursday, because I could, to see the second-choice operas and these were all rather good.

Life from Light was a strange beast.

It was staged in Hall 1, my first time there. There was some confusion over the seating as (I presume) Kings Place had insisted on numbered seating because that is what their system does but Tête-à-Tête told us on entry that it was free seating as normal. This caused some minor disputes as people tried to get in to seats they thought they had reserved only to find them occupied. I sat somewhere close to the seat on my ticket but not actually in it.

Life from Light was a long piece, around an hour, composed of several sung sections on the theme of love (with words by the likes of Wikipedia, William Shakespeare, Barack Obama and Edgar Allan Poe) with bird song filling the gaps between them. That sounds something like a 70's concept album and the music did too. It was pleasant enough and I was tapping my feat at times, especially when the trumpet was playing which kept reminding me of Moby's Extreme Ways, the Bourne theme tune.

The three singers and all the musicians played their parts well and it was a thoroughly entertaining hour. It just lacked substance.

Your Call… Part 1 was stranger.

We were back in Hall Two for this and this did not do it any favours. Your Call was an intimate piece with just one performer and would have worked much better in a smaller space. I would have liked to have seen it performed in a small shared space as Flat Pack was.

The performance consisted to recorded words and music which the woman interacted with. It was about the telephone and how we use it which meant that she was often in a conversation with the recording. The different conversations, help on her many different phones, provided variety in subject matter and tone.

It sort of worked but it was bit of a struggle to work out where it was going, or why. I found the balance of speech, singing and movement difficult to categorise and this was often closer to theatre than opera. And I would have liked it to have been more operatic with more music and more singing.

That is not to say that I did not like it, because I did, it was just that I am not sure what it was that I liked and I am sure that I would have liked it more in a more intimate setting.

It was a shame that my experience of Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2014 ended on a relatively low note but did nothing to diminish my enthusiasm for modern opera or for the festival. If anything it taught me that I should go to more evenings, I caught the good Thursday evening almost by accident, and that is what I will try and do at Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival 2015.

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