Thursday, 17 January 2008

Good news and bad news

I'm a firm believer in getting bad news out of the way first. So here's the bad news.

The Act I rehearsal today was really a bit rubbish.

We did the bit from Grimes's first appearance, bawling offstage for someone to come and help him bring in his boat, to the end of the 'storm' ensemble ('Now the flood tide and sea horses...').

Or rather, we didn't. Much.

Same old story: hardly anybody having memorised the parts well enough, with some honourable exceptions (Abby! That kind of attitude could take you places, you know... well, Manchester, anyway). At 2.35pm, we'd hacked through the entrails of Act I with about five per cent of singable words actually being sung. Nan was into her usual manic-laugh-despair state at this stage of proceedings.

It almost got called off then, and given up as a Concert Performance. (Er, it still might.) But it didn't, and the reason it didn't was because we did *another* run through of the whole of Act I up to page 86 without scores.

And, guess what. Most of us had been wandering around Act I to date with scores in hand, like befuddled American tourists with maps of central London confounded by the streets not being laid out on a grid like Atlanta, Georgia, but on a tangle of spaghetti like London, England. But once we'd been forced to put the libretti down and actually look up and watch each other and even, er, look at that bloke called Tim at the piano who waves his hands around in a rhythmic kind of way sometimes....

Well, put it this way. Before we put our scores down and were forced to sing from memory, it was worse than a scratch performance of Grimes by a bunch of Radio 4 comedians. And after we put our scores down and sang from memory, it was just about as good as a scratch performance of Grimes by a bunch of Radio 4 comedians.

Then we did it again from memory, the whole of Act I. And this time it was so good that Nan only gave us the same bollocking as she gave us at the same stage in the previous two years. That was with Carmen, which was a much easier opera, or even Magic Flute the same stage the year before, which was easier than that.

And the good news? Well, I made a very good curry. And also, Abby's got into the Royal Northern College, except that's kind of bad news as it means she won't be in next year's Opera Gold performance of Bohème or whatever (I'm guessing). She'll be up in Manchester. But it's good news for her, if not for her bank manager.

So, see, I was right about this business of memorising things. If you put in a bit of application in learning parts, you'll be like Abby, or me. And be confident on stage.

And, er, skint. But impressively skint.

Anyway, I'm off this weekend on a mountain-biking-stag do up to the Lakes. The weather forecast's terrible: torrential rain all Saturday and Sunday. Oh dear. We may end up being stuck in a pub.

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