Friday, 30 January 2009

BOGOF (Buy one, get one free)

We're double-casting, but have limited rehearsal time. Our staging rehearsals are therefore bizarrely taking place with both casts simultaneously. Yesterday was a fine example of this operatic two-for-one deal.

In the arias it's OK - there's just twice the volume, trios become sextets and so on. In the recits though it's a bit confusing, as my idea of the right timing is clearly different to Panos's, my twin Basilio. You know that off-putting echo you sometimes get in international phone calls? It's like trying to do a rehearsal by phone to Qatar.

Anyway, Panos is being very helpful, supplying other people's lines when they can't remember, which I know they appreciate, and has lots of suggestions on staging for Nan.

It did get a bit crowded, though, as we were working out our moves for the bit where Cherubino and the Count are hiding behind some chairs (a difficult feat to pull off with those skeletal plastic stacking models). Synchronised opera is unlikely to be the new minority sport at the 2012 Olympics.

At one point Panos managed to swop places, so that instead of me/Nat and him/Casey, it became me/Casey and him/Nat. Casey reacted with her usual fit of laughter and giggles. I wish I could swing that trick at times of stress, such as when buses cut me up as I cycle up Peckham High Street.

Anyway, we finished with Non più andrai, with the stereo Cherubinos of Miriam and Charlotte (picture). Nan suggested that Cherubino should be dressed in a military greatcoat, patently over-large for comic effect. Nick, the not exactly petite stage manager, provided his overcoat. As he said, if that isn't far too big, then you've got problems.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Final performance dates announced

Our two performances will be:
Cast A - Friday 12 June 2009
Cast B - Saturday 13 June 2009.

Put that on the calendar section of your mobile phone before you lose it and have to create a Facebook group asking your friends to tell you their numbers again.

Well, I'm struggling to decide what to do with Don Curzio. The score clearly demands a stammer. In the John Eliot Gardiner CD that I've got (a terrifically characterised performance with cracking recits, by the way) the guy doing it really hams it up ("due mille pe-pe-pe-PEEEEEEEEEEEEE-zzi duri", that sort of thing).

Now, I'm a bit uncomfortable with this. Sure, that's what the score says, and no doubt it was hilarious laughing at people with speech impediments in the late 1780s, but then they also found cripples and dwarfs and foreigners unspeakably funny too.

Even up to the 1970s, stuttering was a cast-iron audience-pleaser. Sometimes it was at least done with wit - see for example Sam Kydd's elocutionally challenged factory worker in I'm All Right Jack, furious at a group of paparazzi: "Tell 'em to go and f, f, f, f, photograph something else", he says. But acts such as Jack Douglas or the Scaffold's 1968 novelty-single hit Lily the Pink plundered the pound shop of cheap laughs.

We don't do that sort of stuff any more, and quite right too. That's not political correctness, it's just good manners: a guy who can speak perfectly well ser-ser-ser-ser-stammering for comic effect is just sadistic and crass.

Well, I say I can speak perfectly well. I wasn't making much sense last Saturday night, but that was Hugh and Roger's party, and things always get a bit out of hand there.

So: what to do about Curzio and still respect the score? Well, it struck me that he could machine-gun stutter in the way that elderly Tory peers do on current affairs programmes. "Well, I, I, I, I, I, have seen the, the, the, the amendment, but when it comes to, to, to, to the vote, I, I, I, I..."

You get the sort of thing. Not a speech impediment, more an affectation; and wouldn't that be more in keeping with a doddery old milord anyway? Is that characterisation rather than stereotyping? Well, I hope so. Unless you have any better ideas...

Saturday, 10 January 2009

New Year, new rehearsal time

Happy New Year, folks. Our new rehearsal schedule for 15 January to 26 March is up on the website. Rehearsals are still on Thursdays, but half an hour later: 5pm to 7pm. Good news for all you students! An extra half hour in bed!

Anyway, one of my new year's resolutions is that I'll be more regular with blog updates here. In fact, it's my only new year's resolution that's still intact. And no, I'm not telling you what the others were. I doubt they'd make it through Google's filter, anyway.