Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If you are a Mozart lover then look away now

I spent yesterday afternoon watching the DVD (that I was sent by the OU) of Don Giovanni, the Bertoli (who played Donna Elvira) recording done at Zurich in 2001. Now I'm no opera buff but I know what I like (sorry for that old chestnut) and it really is not Mozart. With the exception of one or two arias which were, admittedly, beautiful, the rest really does not stir me one jot. One good thing though is that I've now been reminded of how much I love Puccini operas and I've just ordered a few DVDs. I have audio recordings of most of his great work but how much better to see them again and again as well.

One of my first jobs was working at the old Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, on the switchboard of all places. It was quite interesting because in the evening you would be in this quaint old telephone room all alone, get served a meal and usually have to connect the 'star performers' with their telephone calls. Yes, I managed to cut off quite a few of the rich and famous and after a few months I decided this really was not the job for me and that I should think about having a proper career as opposed to just a job. Anyway, the switchboard room was beside the paint frame - the place where the flats (the sets) were painted and it was much more fun to hang around there or up on the flies with the strong men who had to change the flats via a lot of pulleys. When I was on the day shift I spent my lunch and coffee breaks up on the flies watching the ballet rehearsals and marvelling at how strong they had to be to practice for hours and hours. I always find it very annoying when people say how effeminate male ballet dancers are because when you see the amount of rehearsal and practice time they have to put in, they have much more body strength than a lot of posturing guys at a gymn.

Another good thing about working there was that every employee received a pair of tickets for the final dress rehearsal of all new productions. This was done as an actual performance with no stopping for corrections and it was always an afternoon thing - this meant that I was usually working and could not actually go myself but my parents saw some fantastic operas and ballets for no money at all. I would sometimes pop into the back of the theatre for the evening performances and see the star names of the day, but it was quite uncomfortable standing for a long time in a hot theatre and I didn't want to buy a ticket, not when I worked there; much better to watch the rehearsals from up on high.

Anyway, I went off at a slight tangent then - It's Puccini operas for me with maybe a movement of two from some Wagner but you can really forget Mozart as far as I am concerned.


Frankofile said...

You had my dream job!! I was a ballet struck kid without talent and would have LOVED to watch rehearsals. Instead I went straight to the Career. Being a pipsqueak in the Civil Service could never match up, though.

Sounds like you are studying the OU's new Arts Foundation course - another exciting experience which I'd love to share (but am stuck with more sensible things). HOpe to read more about it as you go through.

French Fancy said...

hello frankofile (good name). No, it's not the foundation course. I did that two years ago. This is the Level 2 course A207 - from the Enlightenment to the Romantics.

What sensible things are you studying? Better still, I'll go and find out from your blog.

thanks for popping in

Blu said...

Loved reading this I felt like I was there for a moment. Best wishes from Blu

Frankofile said...

All the best with the studying. I'm taking a study break right now (now I'm not working full time I'm far too busy) but the last courses were postgrad (H807, H808) - all that referencing is toooo tedious.

French Fancy said...

Of course you just knew I had to go and see what courses you did. Did you find them good?

Frankofile said...

All OU courses are brilliant, aren't they? ;-) I learn loads from each - even if I always promise to go back over the materials when I have more leisure. If you get time/have any interest, tuck in the digital photography course, is my tip!

French Fancy said...

I don't think I could manage more than one OU course at a time. For one thing they are extraordinarily expensive for us ex-pats. I had to pay £1465 for my course as I live in France - even as a Brit!