Sunday, 24 February 2013

Annoyed of Tunbridge Wells has a night at the opera

Have just fired the below off into the ether:

     "On Saturday 23rd February I attended Scottish Opera's Werther at the Theatre Royal Glasgow and sat in the Balcony. An otherwise enjoyable performance was thoroughly spoiled by the amount of noise made by the Balcony front of house staff throughout the performance. Starting within minutes of curtain up and continuing throughout there was thudding about, doors slamming (presumably the bar door), rustling, whispering, squeaking (plastic or polystyrene type noises) and walky talky sounds. I can appreciate that there might be some noise 5 minutes prior to the interval opening the bar but this was throughout the performance and ruined the standout aria in Act 2. While the performance was not well attended that doesn't mean that people who did pay for tickets should have to put up with this. I couldn't see what they were doing because of the wooden barrier at the back of the Balcony seating but whatever it was should have been done outwith performance times, especially during an opera where it's all about the sound quality.

I'm currently in the habit of attending Scottish Opera performances in Glasgow rather than Edinburgh but if this happens again, the Festival Theatre will be getting my custom in future."*

Now, one could argue that all that's a reasonable response to Werther which may qualify as the world's most annoying opera, featuring as it does winsome kiddies, rustic yokels and the most pathetic 'hero' ever. But still...

The performance seems to have been well reviewed and musically was pretty blameless (what I could hear over the noise from behind me) but the staging was ugly and conceptually really creepy - what was going on with Werther continually mistaking his beloved's little sisters for her?

What's more, the production was advertised with this, which looks moody and rather romantic:

Yet the singer, while blessed with a beautiful voice, looked more like an Edwardian railway clerk with an overexposure to Brylcreem. However no-one (except followers of Jonas Kaufmann) really expects to be visually as well as auditorily stimulated by their tenors so that's only a minor niggle.

*Have I ever claimed not to be pompous? No, I have not. I own it.

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