Saturday 29 August 2020

Rue, Britannia

 I mentioned recently that I had been to an outdoor, socially distanced opera. Well, now I've been to another, so I'd better write about them.

First up was the dress rehearsal of a short, family friendly version of Humperdinck's 'Hansel and Gretel' that Opera North are touring as 'Whistle Stop Opera', with four singers and an accordion . It was excellent in every way: musically of course, it didn't rain, it was free, and, probably most important to me anyway, it was a small, small step towards some sort of a hint of a return to normality. It took place in the car park of the UK's oldest surviving working men's club, which is in an inner city area a kilometre or so south of central Leeds. The entire audience was made up of middle class visitors whilst the locals ignored events completely.

Also excellent - and free - was Northern Opera Group's performance of Thomas Arne's 'Thomas & Sally', which was one of the few elements of this year's Leeds Opera Festival not to be online. Taking place in a small park between a multi-story car park and a shopping centre (and which for the first time that I can ever recall contained no winos) it was billed as a one-act comic opera. I didn't laugh once, and it had two acts, but nevertheless it was very good. Perhaps the comic part is simply that the soprano not only doesn't die, but even gets to marry her sweetheart in the end. 

Now you'e all thinking to yourselves, "Thomas Arne, where do I know that name from?". Well, I suspect that you are bringing to mind the rousing choral finale to his opera 'Alfred' (as in 'the Great'), a song beloved of racist simpletons and rabble-rousing demagogues alike.

As a different song puts it:

"Land of hopeless Tories, 

Mother of the Sleaze" 

N.B. Credit for both cartoon and lyrics to Martin Rowson

1 comment:

  1. It’s provided good headlines for them to rant about. I got a message the other day having a go at the BBC ‘banning’ it. He wasn’t happy hen I pointed out they hadn’t banned anything.