Within the last two weeks 2018 has come into full swing. There’s been so many news bulletins from the opera, theatre and the classical music world that I’ve decided to break down the theatre news into one blog post and bring you opera and classical music news tomorrow in another post. Enjoy!
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The number of likes and followers you make on social media may make you seem popular, but does that really mean you’re getting genuine likes and authentic followers? I had a eureka moment this morning when I managed to find a couple of unfollow apps. I learnt a few insightful things about my Twitter and Instagram followers.
I have been cultivating my Instagram (@nguyenuk11) account for a year now and have invested almost four years on my Twitter (@marygnguyen) account. As I cleaned through my ‘following’ lists, I realised that many of them:
a) don’t follow me,
b) are bots and are not managed by people,
c) hardly interact with me,
d) don’t spread content related to my interests, usually because they are spam, or
e) are redundant accounts, or were shut down by social media.
The hashtags #Metoo and #TimesUp originate from the rise of sexual allegations and harassment cases revealed within the wider theatre, film and entertainment industries since the latter part of 2018. After media outlets announced the sexual allegations claims made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, more claims of sexual abuse, rape and harassment came out about other notable figures, including ex-artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre and actor Kevin Spacey. He was accused of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour by 20 members of the Old Vic as artistic director from 2004-2015. Actor Anthony Rapp also accused Spacey of making sexual advances towards him when he was 14 years old.
The Stage’s Special Report on Harassment in Theatre was published on January 25th. Having read it I thought I’d share some sections, quotes and statistics from The Stage’s findings. (The actual report can be found here. You need to be a subscriber to read all seven pages of it online.)
Welcome! Here’s a roundup of news, posts, bits and pieces I’ve been sharing on Social Media from the second week of January. That includes Bridge Theatre’s PR email blunders, Devoted and Disgruntled’s 13th event, and lots of interviews and reviews.
TrendFem – My blog posts
I shared some of my thoughts of the opening night of #ROHTosca with Joseph Calleja, Gerald Finley and Adrianne Pieczonka. It’s the ninth revival of Jonathan Kent’s production. (Click here.)
Come and get a history lesson at the @gatetheatre with @NinaB0wers ‘s captivating performance #Twilight1992 (here) focusing on the riots of Los Angeles in 1992.
It was National Popcorn Day on Friday 19th, so I sent out a post I wrote in 2016 discussing the effects that cinema live screen events have had on converting new audiences to opera (here).
It was the opening night of David McVicar’s revival production of Salome with Malin Bystrom and Michael Volle. I wrote about their tremendous performance here.
Welcome! Here’s a roundup of news, posts, bits and pieces I’ve been sharing on Social Media since Day 1 of 2018.
The Globe has announced that they will be showing a new production of Othello this summer. Claire van Kampen shall direct the production with Andre Holland and Mark Rylance who take on the role of Othello and Iago. Tickets are on sale from January 29th, 2018, so get your index finger ready as they will definitely sell out fast. (Click here for the Globe website.)
Ever read a great review of a show and wanted to see the show for yourself, but didn’t know where the theatre was? No worries. Blogger and theatre writer Liz Dyer has pre-made a theatre map for your location needs. If you are a theatre that isn’t listed on the map, let Liz know and she will update the map for you. (Check out the map on her blog.)
Happy News from Alice Jones on Twitter, reporting from Soho Theatre:
Well that’s a first. Someone just proposed to their girlfriend on stage at Soho Theatre! (she said yes)
— Alice Jones (@alicevjones) January 5, 2018
If you read my last post Reflecting on 2017, then you’ll know I saw the following in 2017 — 19 operas, 26 theatre shows, eight classical music concerts and seven dance shows. In a similar way, I sat down and figured out how many films I saw at the cinema last year and, to my surprise, the number was impressive, by comparison. It’s forty-nine, yes, 49! Essentially, I saw a film at least once a week, which is brilliant, but you’re probably wondering how is that possible, right?
The average price for a cinema ticket is £15, in London anyway. I’m guessing you’re thinking I spent £735 on film tickets… wrong! As much as I love theatre, opera, entertainment and culture, on the whole, a £15 cinema ticket (not two,) is a hefty price. On top of making the time to see films, after a hard day’s work (not forgetting that some cinemas show films past some people’s bedtime), I depend on a cinema card for my Hollywood and CGI fix, without having to break the bank. That card was, and presently is, the Limitless card from Odeon Cinemas.
Now, before you decide to close this page, please don’t assume this is a promotional post for Odeon. I wasn’t paid to write about them (although Odeon should pay me). I would humbly like to address — the fact — that I paid £19.99 a month to see all the films I wanted. That includes the sky high £23 tickets sold at the Odeon Cinemas in the West End. It’s wonderful, honestly. I know Cineworld cinemas have a similar scheme, but Odeon has more venues closer to me, which is why I went with them. If you want to be a film buff, this is possibly the quickest way to become one. So, how about a limitless card for theatre?
Are you feeling as reflective about 2017 as everyone else on social media? Perhaps. I took the opportunity to go through some old posts I wrote back in 2015 where I claimed I saw 64 operas and 34 theatre shows. Impressed with these numbers I wanted to compare my past efforts with how I did in 2017 and the results were pretty sad, but far from dramatic. *Drum roll please.* I counted what I saw in the theatres, concert halls and auditoriums in London and it came down to 19 operas, 26 theatre shows, eight classical music concerts and seven dance shows. Am I surprised? Not really. I knew this was going to happen.
Back in 2015, I was a student focusing on my postgraduate studies, constantly reading and writing. I had time to run away in the evenings to see shows and write reviews in the mornings, but life moves on and we all have to get a job some time. Or if it isn’t a job that’s unrelated to our passions and interests, then it’s life itself. We all need a break from work, and blah, blah, blah. You need to schedule in dates for life’s many pleasures. I say that sarcastically, FYI!, and for that simple reason, I’m not going to beat myself about it.
This post is divided into Part I and Part II.
Part I – My thoughts on Keith Warner’s production of Otello at the Covent Garden, 2017.
Part 2 – My thoughts on seeing the opera at the Covent Garden, then seeing it again for the cinema Encore.
Part I : Othello versus Otello.
Before I begin, I want to make something clear. Othello is the original theatrical marvel written by the Bard (Shakespeare) in 1601. Verdi’s own interpretation Otello came along after, which he composed with Arrigo Boito in 1887 after seeing a production of Shakespeare’s play in England, 1847. Despite the English playwright’s influence on Verdi’s masterwork sitting in the opera house being armed with information about Othello won’t heighten your opera experience much. For anyone who is a big Othello fan (me!), they will know that watching Otello should be treated as a different reading entirely. For example, compared to the original play, Desdemona and Emilia say a lot more and unfortunately their characters don’t get the chance to develop as much in the opera. For some reason, Verdi plays down Emilia’s realism. In act 3, scene 4 of the original text, Emilia says to Desdemona, ‘Tis not a year or two shows us a man: They are all stomachs, as we are all but food…’ Not a dime of this shiny humour or wittiness exists in Boito’s libretto. Secondly, the ending is very different. Justice is not served. Iago gets away with creating the chaotic bloodbath without getting his hands dirty. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why Verdi originally wanted to call the opera ‘Iago’.
For the first time, our ‘dreamy’ tenor Jonas Kaufmann performs the lead role of Otello. This was, and still is, ‘the highly anticipated event’ of the year in the opera world. Known as Verdi’s most mature and highly orchestrated piece of work, composed during the final chapters of the composer’s life, the Royal Opera House has returned to the opera after 30 years’ absence with a superb cast sheet of performers including In Sung Sim (Lodovico), Marco Vratogna (Iago) Maria Agresta (Desdemona), Frederic Antoun (Cassio) and Kai Rüütel (Emilia).
This year BP Big Screens will be showing The Dream / Symphonic Variations / Marguerite and Armand on 7 June, Verdi’s La traviata on 4 July and Puccini’s Turandot on 14 July. Hundreds of spectators can watch opera for free in the open at various venues throughout the UK including Trafalgar Square, Aberdeen, York and Newcastle. And with Jonas Kaufmann’s lead role as Otello being live streamed to cinemas from the Covent Garden on Wednesday 28th June (encore 2nd July), it may be a good time to rethink the value (or disvalue) of broadcasting opera on the silver screen, and whether or not it can develop new opera audiences.
Here is an article I wrote back in September 2015, which I didn’t get round to publishing online. (If you want my bibliography or list of references, I’d gladly share them with you.) I’m playing a bit of devil’s advocate with my suggestions, but I hope it gives readers an idea of the ongoing debate on whether it is an effective way of developing new audiences for a genre that is suffering from smaller audience numbers and losing confidence, particularly in the UK, due to cuts to their arts aid in a digital era where “being there” isn’t as imperative as it used to be.
Special thanks to Gate Picturehouse, the Royal Opera House and BBC Proms for offering information promptly, including Tom Nelson and Miranda Keys for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts and experiences of live broadcast.>>>
Last night’s event at the Senate House sparked great conversation and debate on writing about classical music. Frances Wilson, pianist, classical music reviewer and blogger, chaired the event whilst making an invaluable contribution to the Q & A session at the end. (She also made sure the event ran smoothly.) I spoke as a panellist alongside Simon Brackenborough (founder and editor of Corymbus.co.uk), Jessica Duchen (music journalist at the Independent) and classical music blogger) and Imogen Tilden (commissioning music editor at the Guardian).
I didn’t get the chance to see as many musicals and plays in London this year. However, having viewed thirty-four shows, there was still a lot of theatre craft and creativity to praise. Here are my favourite shows from Theatreland; from the West End and Fringe world.
Opera at a Glance in 2015. My review from major opera houses in London (Click here)
Fringe Opera Favourites for 2015: (Click here)