Recently attended an operatic relay from Royal Opera House in the local cinema. Heard much about these events and wanted to experience one for myself, but I have to admit I was dreadfully disappointed.
Technically, it was far from adequate: the picture quality was poor, a little out of focus it seemed to me, nothing like high definition. The camera-work was unsympathetic, so in passages of radiant music, for example, the shots darted around disconcertingly instead of using some gentle cross-fading. But worse was the sound quality, for the stage seemed to be emanating from a different venue. While the orchestral sound was great, the singing was underpowered and in the wrong acoustic. Apparently, the stormy weather had done nothing to help and there were other cinemas in the country where it all went completely haywire.
The opera was Parsifal. Allegedly. But so drowned under a director's 'vision' that it was scarcely recognisable.
Put it this way: if a composer wrote music for a drama or a movie that was as inconsequential to its subject as this production was to Wagner's music, well, he or she would be considered entirely incompetent.
Besides, gone was any sense of humility, of serving Wagner's score: instead, the Director had become a co-writer, quite altering the setting and the story for which Wagner wrote his music. This production wasn't evocative: it left no room for one's own imagination. The Director's vision was all-important, all-embracing; and utterly pretentious.
Yes, it makes me angry that so much public funding is at stake. And by beaming into cinemas around the country, the attempt is made to introduce a wider audience to the world of opera. It seemed to me, at the Andover Odeon the other night, they were shooting themselves in the foot.
There were only 8 of us in the audience. And 2 of us, at least, left after Act 1.
Composer and musician