THEATRE With David Benedict
The Eye On Theatre
Saturday 02 November 1996
There's more nonsense spouted about opera than about any other art form. "So elitist," sneer the gainsayers. "Sane people can't afford it." Not so. Shelling out for one of Pavarotti's rare appearances may require a second mortgage, but pounds 7 will buy you the best sound in the house at ENO. The top-priced seats there aren't cheap (pounds 45), but think of the wage bill for the orchestra, chorus and backstage crew, let alone singers' fees. As for elitism, you try getting change out of pounds 20 for a seat at a Premier League football match anywhere other than on your living-room sofa.
Along with quarrels about audibility, foreign languages and the like, the commonest misconception is that opera singers can't act. While it is true that no one is aching to cast Kiri Te Kanawa as Cleopatra, Lady Macbeth or Blanche Dubois, Willard White had a good stab at Othello in Shakespeare's non-musical version, under the watchful eye of Trevor Nunn. Okay, so Ian McKellen and Zoe Wanamaker eventually wiped the floor with him, but he still put up a pretty good fight for the first three acts.
Still unconvinced? Then you can't have seen the trail- blazing work of Music Theatre London. Ten years ago, Nicholas Broadhurst was Richard Eyre's assistant on the legendary National Theatre production of Guys and Dolls, and Tony Britten was the musical director. In the course of the run, the pair of them led members of the cast in a workshop on Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. The results were so exciting that MTL was born.
There have been ups and downs in the company's fortunes but now they're back on top form with two of their greatest hits, Don Giovanni and La Traviata.
Opera novices have been astonished by their musical and dramatic strengths, while seasoned buffs have been forced to eat their hats when watching the Don's lechery so vividly portrayed or experiencing Violetta's painful sacrifice so movingly rendered. For genuinely theatrical opera, look no further.
EYE ON THE NEW
Director Jude Kelly has enticed Eleanor Bron and Prunella Scales to Leeds for the British premiere of A Perfect Ganesh by Terrence McNally, one of Broadway's favourite playwrights. An intriguing prospect.
1 Nov-7 Dec, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (0131-244 2111)
Life & Style blogs
Snapchat got rid of the Best Friends feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Food secrets: the good, the bad...and the faeces
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea
Taylor Swift’s Twitter and Instagram accounts hacked, apparently by Lizard Squad
Selfie-obsessed men may be narcissistic psychopaths, study finds
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...