Royal Opera House Manchester?

12-march-2009-sofia-bulga-002

Report cautiously welcomes Royal Opera House Manchester

I’ve seen opera at the Palace Theatre and was impressed, as always, by the concentration and good manners of the Manchester audiences. I hope it can go ahead.

The main problem with the Palace is the size of the pit. It has been enlarged over the years but the place is still a bit small for Wagner. It doesn’t seem that long since an enormous amount of money was spent on the place to make it fit for opera. I must be getting old.

The Opera House itself, in Quay Street, is a lovely theatre but smaller still. In fact the stage is smaller than the Library Theatre’s. It would however be fine for Mozart. I’ve seen convincing performances of Madama Butterfly, Jenùfa, Peter Grimes and even Billy Budd done there but none of these is really large-scale.

As for Opera North, Charlotte Higgins, audiences in Leeds chatter all the way through the overture and eat crisps and sweets throughout the performance. I know, because I go to Opera North often.

I do wish Opera North would stop doing their minimalist productions, with half the operas using the same costumes (black dressing gowns). Then there was “The Marriage of Figaro” when the characters hid behind trees the size of hand mirrors.

However, all this pales into significance when compared with the Mozart recitatives accompanied by an amplified harpsichord, or the electric piano used in Puccini’s La Rondine.

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2 Responses to “Royal Opera House Manchester?”

  1. Opera North is about to launch the spring season in April with a traditional Don Carlos and a musically stunning Abduction from the Seraglio, so hopefully there is something there you will be keen to see. Have you been to our new venue in Leeds – the Howard Assembly Room? Definitely no rustling as food and drinks are banned and the programme is quite ecelctic.

  2. Thanks for your comment Lindsey. I will always support Opera North. Leeds itself as well. I have many excellent memories of attending concerts there, including the greatest performance I have ever seen of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8, given by the BBC Philharmonic (then the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra) conducted by Edward Downes, this must have been more than twenty years ago. The ovation at the end was so prolonged that Downes held the score aloft like it was the FA Cup. I was once even interviewed for a job at Opera North, as music librarian. I didn’t get it.

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