Sunday, December 11, 2016

A horse, a road, and the sea

Image from Kaija Saariaho's
L'Amour de Loin
Kelvin, Rebecca and I have been going to events where the protagonist has been a horse, a road or a sea.

For us oldies that is hard – since we are used to having humans as the focal point of stories. 

Probably everyone reading here has already seen War Horse or read the book, and will agree, that in at least the book, the voice belongs to the horse. And in the stage play all of the events on stage are a series of vignettes that involve the horse.

London Road
From left, the prostitutes Vicky (Kate Fleetwood),
Hayley (Rosie Hilal) and Sarah (Amy Griffiths) Photo: Nicola Dove
London Road was a show that came out of workshops done by the National Theatre. A writer and a musician were paired up and told to create a story which became a cinematic oddity, a musical about a series of murders that happened in 2006 in Ipswich, an English town north of London.

The musical was adored by the critics. Musically its interest was that dialogue/lyrics that occurred were words spoken by townspeople at the time of the murder. These conversations were collected by Alecky Blythe and turned into songs. Still, Rebecca and I found ourselves singing bits of them the next day – to our delight, for we had wondered if the songs were memorable as we drove home that night. I was charmed by the “feel” of the musical – so very English. We watched the version of the show where there was a Q & A afterwards with Rufus Norris, the show’s director, and with some of the cast. All that fun for us occurred around London Road in Ipswich.

Kaia Saariaho’s opera, L’Amour de Loin, is a story about the sea, a story about a pilgrim who travels from one place to another and then back again delivering messages about love: unrequited, a distant love, love from afar, an ethereal love. The sea was represented by 28,000 LED lights on stage -- a remarkable sight.

Kelvin, Rebecca and I had a rousing discussion about the show as we waited for his Access Calgary ride to pick him up and take him home. Did we like the show or not?  That remains to be seen.  I had no idea that the show was built on an 11th century fable about Jaufre Rudel, the Prince of Blaye.

I was curious at the intermission for many seats were left empty. I hand it to the Met Opera, for they filled the time with interviews with Susanna Phillips (Clemence), Tamara Mumford (The Pilgrim,) Susanna Malkki (the conductor), Kaija Saariaho (the composer), Pacido Domingo, the Lighting Designer, the Lightscape Image Designer … and they even had time to tell us again that as wonderful as it is to see this in HD Live, it is even better to visit the Met in person, or to visit our local opera houses.

I concur.

So why did so many people leave?

I have no answer.  Rebecca and I were curious about the music before hand and had gone to u-tube to listen to some of what we were about to hear.  That little trick always prepares me so that I have fewer surprises than if I hadn't done my self-imposed homework. I just can't help myself.  I wonder if that would have helped others.


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