Sunday, November 20, 2011

A night at the opera

No, not this:

It was this one instead:

Both are magic in their own ways, but they aren't quite the same.

On Friday night I saw Northern Opera's production of Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades (or Pique Dame) at The Lowry in Salford. It is a dark tale of obsession and passion, where love brings nothing but torment for the lovers. From the moment the curtain goes up, showing Herman on stage alone, the ominous overture fades and we see a condemned man. At each turn of the plot he is offered a choice to back down and choose happiness, yet every time he obeys the instinct of a gambler and risks all to gain all. Death wins.

It was a decent enough production with some strong performances and did justice to such a powerful melodrama.  But the highlight for me was the youth of the audience. There were plenty of grey hairs there (such as mine), but also younger people and a couple of school trips in the near full-house. So the best moment for me was walking out of the theatre, feeling breathless from the emotion of the experience, and seeing a scruffy young lad of about thirteen or fourteen, his eyes shining, turn round to his mates and say in a thick Salford accent, "That was OK that was. Especially at the end where he dies". High culture (to use that dreadful phrase), is only elitist in that the elite confine it to themselves. Beauty is impervious to class.

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