Sunday, June 22

Opera in the schools

A group of 4 schools in Sydney are collaborating to produce an opera; completely dependant upon the students themselves. To produce the libretto, musical score, sets, staging and choreography under the guidance of their school musical teacher. Apparently many of the students had never even seen an opera before, and decided to see La Boehme to give them idea of what it is all about. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for students to discover many new dimensions in creativity they would not otherwise experience.

It also reminded me of two instances many years ago proving how easily things can go wrong even in the most professional opera companies. One instance concerned the use of Great Danes who were fitted with shaggy mains around their necks to make them look like lions. They looked magnificent. It was decided to save time there would be no need for them to join in on the dress rehearsal since all that was required was for them to be led out onto the stage at the required time. Alas on opening night when the dogs were on stage and heard the high music they all simultaneously began howling at the top of their voices; there was no alternative other than to lead the dogs off and close the curtain much to the amusement of the audience l

The second instance concerned a rather nervous soprano making her debut who was unduly concerned about a high note in her aria. This particular production called for stage extra’s who acted as spear carrying warriors under threat they would be sacked by the Producer unless they followed implicitly the directions of the prompt (The prompt sits below the stage and cannot be seen by the audience) who had been given the job of directing them into their required positions on stage.
When the soprano began her Aria the men had already entered the stage and as she continued she fluffed her top “C”. It wasn’t anything so terrible, but the Prompt grimaced and held his hands over his ears in sympathy, to which all of the spear carrying warriors acted simultaneously to the merriment of the audience. The soprano thought they were all laughing at her and tore off the stage in tears, the curtain came down with an ominous thud and after a short interval the opera recommenced. The show must go on!


Cart said...

My inner city, Sydney, boys high school did an opera each year, or at least operetta. It seemed surreal at the time, especially the year we did The Mikado, a strange choice for a tough boy’s school.
Mind you, I was disappointed as we had been doing a study on Britten’s Peter Grimes. While even that was treated with a distinct lack of enthusiasm, despite an almost familiar content ‘Three Little Maids from School…’ was delivered to perfection.
I was always relegated to the most minor roles in plays etc, was sacked as lion in Midsummer Night’s Dream because I didn’t have a roar in me. So I didn’t get to witness the process that turned a bunch of tough, city hoodlums into demure maids.
I retrospect I am thankful for the exposure, even the G & S.

susan said...

Hilarious story about the dogs as lions. The organizers should have seen that one coming. I used to love singing but never got to be in any of the after school activities since I lived out in the country and always had to catch the bus home before rehearsals started.

DellaB said...

cart reminds me...

once upon a time... in what was actually a tough girls 'school'... we did The Mikado, I seem to remember I was a sailor, they say it was/is the most popular of Gilbert & Sullivan's operas, and the most ever performed, the boys get to be maids, and the girls get to be sailors.. hmm..

Lindsay, love the dogs on stage image, how funny.. and the hands over the ears, what a good laugh for an early morning start..


Zee said...

I used to be part of the "extra-choir" in Opera productions in Freiburg Germany. It was a lot of fun whilst contributing funds to the studies of becoming a sculptor at that time (early 80's)

Seraphine said...

That's the fun about live performances. You never know what you'll get.
The "human" part of the show is what we enjoy most and remember. The triumph is the show went on.

Seraphine said...

I'm curious. We all know toilets flush opposite (counter-clockwise) down under than in the northern hemisphere.
I wonder if a tornado would spin in the opposite direction too...

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Cart, Susan, Dellab, Zee & Sera
G&S is certainly the popular theme!
Cart-The harmony for 3 Little Maids from School is quite tricky!!
Susan- Saving money on the dress rehearsal was the reason the dogs were excluded l!! Not wise, opera types sometimes don’t have an abundance of common sense. At least it didn’t stop you singing in later life!
Dellab - The Mikado is one of my favourites!! Glad to hear the tales gave you a laugh.
Zee- Opera’s seems much more popular and part of everyday culture and life in Europe.
Sera- Yes I agree with you, it what makes going to a live performance unique and enjoyable.

On your interesting question about Tornadoes
here is what I understand about it all.

Contrary to popular belief toilet flushes all go in the one direction due to the angle the water flows into the bowl; reverse the angle and you will reverse the flow.

And it’s also more to do with the individual design of your sink or bath than anything else which causes the waters rotational direction after you pull the plug out.

It’s a wrong application of that well know theory, to which you refer: eg, If you have a large circular container containing still water, then allowed it to drain through a very small hole you will observe the water drains counterclockwise when you are in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, to mirror the direction of the earths rotation in respect to the corresponding pole.The effect is very small, but noticeable enough in such an experiment.

Most tornadoes however only spin counter clockwise due to the prevailing direction of the storm winds which is almost always in the same direction. If the winds came from the opposite direction, then it would spin clockwise.Hence they dont always spin counter clockwise, only about 99% of the time !

They don’t last long enough for the rotation of the earth to affect them in any material way.

Best wishes

Zee said...

that was an informative comment on tornados Lindsay, Thanks!

Gary said...

Lindsay, these are very funny tales. And the school project sounds delightful. I'd love to be there on opening night (or maybe night 2 :)

My beagle Tippy followed me to a school choir performance of part of the Messiah when I was an 11 year old soprano myself. He stood in the window outside and he too howled with the Hallelujah chorus - all were entertained except the music teacher and my parents.

Progressive Traditionalist said...

Hello, Lindsay.
Several years back, a friend told me of a new playhouse in town, very exciting, highly recommended.
So, I went to see them do 'Jesus Christ Superstar.'
I was a wild, dramatic interpretation.
The apostles all wore camo and face paint like Rambo, carrying machine guns. Most of them were bald, including many of the women.
Very edgy musically.
A good show.

So, I went to see 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' a few months later.
A very disturbing performance.
Bald people with face paint walking around in camo.
Shouting, wailing.

At some point, I looked through the audience, only to see lots of bald people, face paint, camo.
Right then, I felt hopelessly lost and a bit frightened.
I waited quietly til the show was over, left quickly, and never went back.

Seraphine said...

I have never, ever, ever known anyone as knowledgeable as you about wind and water funnels. Thank you for the mini-lecture/lesson. Hugs.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Garry, PT, Zee & Sera
Gary -Boy soprano -what did you become, Bass baritone or tenor?
That’s also another good story about your dog – who could blame him from joining in on the halleluiah chorus.

I like to drink many different types of tea -here’s a special one for you which will increase the "chi" or life energy! Try Goji Berries- they are grown in the pristine remote area of Ningxia which borders Mongolia - they contain all of the essential amino acids, with polysaccharides and antioxidants. Soak them in hot water to make a nutritious tea, and also sprinkle them on your cereal of a morning. !!

Sera & Zee – pleased to be to clarify the position, and thanks for stopping by again!

Best wishes

lindsaylobe said...

And in relation to those wild shows and audiences, may I suggest the next stop is the Metropolitan opera or its equivalent – They audience there are likely to be much more friendly and less frigtening !

Best wishes

nicla b said...

Hi Dad,

I liked this piece. It gave me a laugh imaganing the dogs howling along with the music.
I think it's great that the school you mentioned decided to work on such an exciting project. It's important to provide more opportunities for young people to creatively drive performance work that they are a part of.