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Crazycrone's Corner

Complaining, Crabbing,Caterwauling...

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Deck The Streets With Grubby Glitz...
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crazycrone
Heard a very interesting play on R4 the other day, THE MORPETH CAROL. It's seasonal, but I shouldn't say much about it. I was impressed, anyway. It's still on iplayer.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ln04f
I thought I'd go and have a look at this year's austerity decorations on Regent/Oxford streets. Yes, pretty lame. Selfridges' as usual, had the best show. Nothing like they used to be, though. I remember one long-ago year when there was a window with an Ali Baba theme, featuring animatronic Thieves popping their heads in and out of the giant jars. Must have cost a bundle... There seemed to be fake snow flurries, which was fun. I'm not quite sure where they were coming from, though. John Lewis, maybe. Their windows were passable, as well.
As I passed Berwick Street, I thought I'd try to find GOSH again, and this time I did. It's smaller than I expected, but has plenty of good stock. I had the Sholley, so I didn't try going downstairs, but I was glad to see that they're nothing like the terrifying spiral one at the old shop. I blew money catching up on the excellent Comix Reader as I'd missed a couple. It really is good value. My only complaint is that some of the small print is too much for my old eyes.
My copy of The Strumpet arrived, too. It looks terrific, although I've not had time to read it yet.
R Next Door is really on a roll with the weird utterances this week.  She's determined  not to have her gruesomely decrepit kitchen and bathroom replaced, as anything the contractors do will be shoddy, and even worse than the original. I can see her point, in a way, as the council contractors are invariably crap. Nothing could be worse than the decaying thirty-and more-year-old slums we had, though. I'm quite pleased with mine...She says it's 'a toy kitchen', and wouldn't suit anyone who actually cooks (possibly true-) and kept pointing out how the doors of my cupboadrs are already falling off, and there's 'rust' all over the sink, etc. All of this is entirely in her imagination, of course... It also seems that while she's looking after Amazy, she has a good old root around, in there. That spooks me, although I always hide anything really personal, incriminating cartoons, etc. when I know she's going to be on her own in the flat. She really doesn't have much of a notion of boundaries.
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Yo! Just got back from Melbourne, thought you might want to hear about the Ring. This was a troubled production: it was meant to be a co-pro with Houston Opera but they pulled out a year ago, leaving a gaping hole in the budget. They lost their Wotan, their Siegfried, and two weeks before the first show their Alberich (due to illness) and the conductor pulled out five months before. You'd never have known it, though, as the performances were awesome. Warwick Fyfe, who had been the understudy for Alberich, was the classic Hollywood success story: he not only had a lovely voice but was an incredible actor and stole every scene he was in. And the Siegfried we got was the one who did the Covent Garden Ring last year, Stefan Vinke. He had a gorgeous tenor and actually managed to make Siegfried less insufferable than he actually is - he managed to inject a quality of innocence to buffer the stupidity. Terje Stensvold was a great Wotan and I was astonished to discover he is 70 - you'd never guess from the voice. Another highlight was Graeme McFarlane who played Mime with high camp instead of the nasal sullenness I was expecting. And they were lucky to get the young Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen, who was preparing to do another Ring which fell through so they scooped him up. The orchestra was fantastic (and they put them in the pit, no doubt much to Wagner's posthumous disapproval).

I was expecting the half-hours of boredom you mentioned but I was enthralled the entire way through. I knew the basic story but didn't want to know all the twists and turns and was totally gripped by the plot, although I did want to kill pretty much every man in it.

The production itself was mixed - definitely no plaits and pointy hats. Rheingold was the most successful - they had the brilliant wheeze of dressing the Rhinemaidens as Vegas showgirls and it exactly suited their flirtiness. The gold itself too was very well done - they had a huge bunch of people onstage in swimsuits, all ages and shapes, and the gold was gold pompoms they waved around - enormously effective. And at the end they had similarly dressed showgirls in a rainbow of colours as they revealed Valhalla - it was so pretty I forgot to read the surtitles. Other things weren't quite as successful - the ride of the Valkyries was just them slowly descending onto the stage on swings (which they then used to haul the heroes up, which was really creepy), which wasn't really trying, and Brunnhilde's rock was an entirely bare stage, which was dead boring. And some of the costuming was also deadly dull: Siegfried, for example, wore a striped t-shirt, jeans and trainers. What did work was Gutrune in her wedding dress - it was supertight with a big frothy skirt, and she had a deep fake tan and platinum blonde hair and was accompanied by bridesmaids in Barbie pink minis and heels. Hilarious.

Overall, I feel incredibly lucky to have seen it. The full cycle is staged so rarely and even more so in this part of the world. It had been a hundred years since it was staged in Melbourne and it was only the second full cycle ever in Australia. Hell will freeze over before we ever see a Ring in New Zealand, so travelling to it was annoying and expensive, but incredibly worth it.

Wow, thanks for the vivid write-up. I really enjoyed that.
...Reminded me a bit of a performance of HENRY IV PART 1 I once saw in the states. There was a really bad flu season going on, and Hal, Hotspur and Falstaff were all off sick,but they were doing 'the show must go on', although the understudies still had scripts, etc. Finally, the deputy Falstaff lost his footing and fell into the pit (unharmed, fortunately-) and they gave up the effort! :D
Sounds like it all went amazingly well, in the end, though.
I was just watching another DVD of Siegfried (90's, Bayreuth)last week. The characters really are an unpleasant lot. I have a soft spot for Wotan, but he's pretty 'bad' most of the time, and Siegfried really is *such* a prick... I always feel sympathetic towards scheming Mime. Even though he's totally evil, he, at least, has an excuse for being bitter and twisted.
It's strange to think you've never had a RING in NZ. It's gotta happen...

Haw haw! I know one shouldn't really be amused when somebody falls offstage, but it's just too hilarious... Oo! I forgot to mention another noteworthy bit of the staging - they did the dragon scene by showing him stitting in front of a makeup mirror which had a camera in it, and they projected him putting on clown-style makeup at enormous size. It was tremendous. Then for the killing scene there was no messing around with wings and that, they had him stumbling out through a hole in the scenery completely naked and covered in blood. It worked incredibly well, although I did feel a bit sorry for him after he expired lying on his back and then had to lie there with his bits out trying not to breathe all the time Siegfried was poking holes in Mime. (They did Mime's cave as a really grubby bedsit, with Mime pottering around making tea in the microwave and sniffing the milk. Inspired. I loved the way Siegfried had a toy dragon in his bunk and childish drawings of dragons pinned to the wall above it - it reminded me that he had been a child not a lot earlier and a lot of his problems stem from being an idiot teenager. Modern productions might have their drawbacks, but they do make the traditional flowing robes and stuff look a bit boring.)

Yes, I can't say Wotan is blessed with a winning personality most of the time. I swear if I'd had a pistol in my handbag I would have plugged him between the eyes at the point where he was telling his favourite daughter that he was going to leave her at the mercy of whatever guy came along. Jeez! Not that any of the others are any better.

I'm certainly keen to see more now, and was happy to discover that my library has all the Met DVDs. I plan to work my way through them after a decent interval.

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