Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gormenghast / L'Orfeo

Began the day with an hour-long walk along the Water of Leith path, moving in the direction of central Edinburgh. To get Bondi back to the flat in time for me to reach my early afternoon show, we cut the journey short around Stockbridge.

Event #14: Gormenghast

Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast is a particular favourite of mine. The "dramatised production" - and I use the terms loosely - was so horrendous that I left in under 10 minutes. At the curry bar downstairs, I had barely tucked into my stingy helping of lamb korma and undercooked rice, when two other audience members sat down at an adjacent table, venting loudly at said horrendousness.

The review attached to the advertising material ‘A thrillingly theatrical high-octane journey' can only refer to the reviewer's sniffing petrol while in the audience.

Balancing acts on the Royal Mile

Event #15: Monteverdi: L'Orfeo

Monteverdi's "play with music" about the famous lovers Orpheus and Eurydice is lauded as the first great opera. The Festival's production is by the group Hesperion XXI, lead by Jordi Savall (perhaps best known for his score to the film Tous les matins du monde).

The music is lovely, but sadly I just don't have a good time with pre/Baroque opera. I have horrible memories of an unabridged Handel Alcina which had a procession of females playing women, men disguised as women, etc - singing for what seem an eternity in the same tessitura.

This work, which debuted in 1607, has a livelier feel, but I - just - could - not -stay - awake. I kept jerking back into upright position, squinting upwards to the surtitled English text, usually to read something about a soloist or the chorus experiencing moody weather. One could be forgiven ... I could be forgiven for expecting a Gilbert & Sullivan-like ending with "The threatened cloud has passed away / And brightly shines the dawning day ...".

The staging is I guess "authentic" with the dramatic action extending to some balletic heel and toe, and awkward lyre-hugging from Orpheus.

After my last microreverie, it was intermission, and fearing a second-half slumber, making a noise whilst asleep or waking again, I slipped out into the cold rain and caught a bus home. The seat price was more expensive than many of the B&Bs I've stayed, especially considering that I only sat for 75 minutes and had no hope of poached eggs in the morning.

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