On Tour

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The Independent Culture
This is my third tour of The Fall of the House of Usher with Music Theatre Wales, the Philip Glass opera based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Basically it is the same as the original production in 1989 although there have been some cast changes. I'm finding it even more interesting to be playing the part of Roderick Usher again. The character weirdly grows on you. I've done some background reading into Poe and found possible connections between his lifestyle and Usher's, particularly the hints in the story that the mental derangement is drugs-related.

Glass has chosen a remarkably good subject because his minimalist repetition creates a space which leaves room for the story's ambiguities. We've found that there is a minimalist audience out there - people who wouldn't normally go to mainstream classical concerts. The best venue was the Union Chapel in Islington which is a fabulous Victorian methodist church. The dark, vaguely threatening atmosphere fitted the story perfectly.

I have a preference for this kind of small- scale production. When I'm on tour I'm like a snail carrying my house on my back. I create a cocoon to get enough sleep. We'll go to wherever we feel like for food. Huddersfield had excellent Indian restaurants, whereas in London we might go to The Connaught (071-491 0668).

I frequently travel to places like Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. Composers there show an interest in what is going on here, but I actually think there is a profounder understanding in England on the part of the audience - they appreciate the music more. Lamentably the money isn't here.

Julian Pike, tenor, sings the principal role in The Fall of the House of Usher, 7.45pm Dec 18, Queen Elizabeth Hall, SE1 (071-928 8800)

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