Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Katya Kabanova - 'Go Compare' should be ashamed of themselves.

I think everyone should go to the opera.

A bold statement I know, but one which I completely believe in.

Do I think it's everyone's cup of tea? No.
Do I think it's the best style of theatre there is? Definitely not.

So why?

Because Opera is the greatest demonstration of resonance there ever was.

Not often do you see a show where the lead actors aren't mic'd up to high heaven. There mouths moving in front of you and the sound coming from somewhere behind you. There is nothing more infuriating as a Voice Coach but to see technology being relied on more and more heavily.

So, last night Ben and I went to the English National Opera Coliseum in Charing Cross to see the opera Katya Kabanova. The story itself is a little basic; a typical love triangle story which won't have you confused or misguided. Some of the characters seem a little superflous but all go towards stretching a story that could be told easily in half an hour into a 1hr 45 minute epic. But the music that Janacek wrote for the piece takes centre stage. Beautiful, enchanting and moving in the extreme.

As the orchestra swim through the reams of manuscript you can't help but be impressed as the singers voices soar across the audience, leaving your body resonating in sympathy and the hairs stading up on your neck. When I have my singing lessons with Val (Valerie Reid, ENO Mezzo) I am always blown away and left a little inadequate by the sheer power she can achieve by vibration and resonance alone. The feeling and empathy she has with the music is perfectly placed; this attention to sound was reiterated time after time last night, and I was left speechless.

I was also struck by how timeless the story is. Although written many years ago, the staging and interpretation left us with something we could all relate too. Like a good piece of Shakespeare the pieces never lose their relevance. And David Alden's production giave a modern representation of a classis love story.

If you haven't been to the opera, don't think it's for you, don't listen to classical music, I urge you to buy a £5 ticket in the gods and go. It will leave you with a lasting impression.


  1. Dearest Patsy

    Very pleased you enjoyed your trip to Katya on Monday - indeed it is a most powerful piece - for me Mark Wigglesworth and the Orchestra were fantastic - a strong cast and strong direction make for a superb evening

    See you soon


  2. The orchestra were amazing. And I particulrly liked the second movement, and the end of the second act.

    As a dramatist the set and lighting really had me in awe. So sparse and harsh that it's very difficult to pull off particularly the storm) But only enhanced the bareness of their lives and the beautiful music.

    Very impressed..............x