10 June, 2010


Start practising your ejective consonants now

I'm quite partial to a spot of opera, not that I can afford to patronize such joints as the ROH, assuming that they'd let an oik like me across the threshold. But I do insist on one thing, namely that the opera be sung in foreign.

Which is why I could never contemplate going to a gig at the English National Opera. The distinguishing feature of ENO — the reason for the word English in the name — is not that it stages only English operas — a relentless diet of Britten sweetened with the odd spoonful of G&S, perhaps — but that it insists on all productions being sung in the English language.

Opera is basically a sung play. The concept is weird and the realization is ridiculous. Now, when the opera is sung in a foreign language, even a language I can follow to some extent, then I can put sufficient distance between myself and the intrinsic ludicrousness of the performance to enjoy it. But when it's sung in English, well the very thought of say a contralto and a baritone striding purposefully, nay sententiously, to centre stage, filling their lungs and singing

— "Darling, would you care for a cup of tea?"

— "Thank you my dear, two lumps please."

I'm sorry, writing that down is bad enough. To hear it performed on stage would would have me, as we say on the Internong, ROTFLMAO and get me ejected from the premises doubleplusquick.

But judging from this poster I saw outside the Coliseum yesterday

it appears that the forthcoming production of The Pearl Fishers will be set not in Ceylon as usual but on the planet Pandora. Well if they're going to be singing it in Na'vi, I'm booking a seat.

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