South Park Self

the operative word

Sydney has a very egalitarian attitude to opera. Far from being a bastion of snooty elitism, the Sydney Opera House seems to be a rocking local/tourist hangout, filled to the brim, of a fine winter's evening, with chattering crowds hanging out at the harbourside bars just under the iconic sails. The slightly more formally dressed opera crowd mingle quite cheerfully with the beer-swilling, jeans-wearing tourists. It's all pleasingly eclectic, its air of good-humoured relaxation exemplified neatly by our waiter, who had about seven inverted wineglasses slung through the belt on the back of his waistcoat.

When you approach the opera house by ferry the silhouette, by now the stuff of cliché, looks all ethereal and floaty, like the pictures. One puff of wind and you expect to see the whole thing up sticks and drift out to sea with a stately grace, like a Spanish galleon. Up close, and particularly inside, though, the thing has a sort of a brutal feel, all giant soaring concrete arches and stone, solidly rooted to its peninsula. It's an amazing space, and an amazing history of construction, rife with visions, personalities, cost overruns and hair-tearing moments of "this thing can't be built!" The act of faith to keep going was something extraordinary. The internal theatre and concert spaces are also extraordinary - beautifully designed, and very neatly finangled to give the necessary wing and set storage space under rather than next to them, as dictated by the strange shapes of the external shell. (We took the guided tour, it was fascinating).

The opera itself was a bit weird as an experience; it transpires that I was the only serious opera buff in the group of colleagues who went, and half of them got bored and left at intermission. Cappriccio is a bit of an unfortunate introduction to opera, being an extremely cerebral and meta-level exploration of whether words or music are more important as art forms, but it's frequently witty and the music, while a bit vague and formless at times, has moments of enormous beauty. However, the colleague who booked managed to get us into cheap seats where we couldn't actually see the surtitle strip, which means that we only really had access to half of the words/music debate, rendering it one-sided and curiously moot. It was beautifully staged and sung, though, and I'm utterly glad I went.

In other news, this lurgi is at the well-known "almost accidentally faint while looking at dugong" stage. I need to stay off my feet for a few days. On the upside, I also met a platypus.
  • Current Mood: apathetic dead, floaty
Hm. We're seeing Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at the ENO in a few days. Sadly not in such an amazing building. Any pointers on how to appreciate it?

Edited at 2011-07-03 12:40 pm (UTC)