If Music be the Food ...

We have had several digressions on the Tea and Biscuits thread in All Saints to discuss music, mostly folk music, the summer music season has started with festivals this last weekend, the Proms have been announced and the ROH has several summer stagings in Trafalgar Square, so I wondered if a music thread would work. More the appreciation of music and gigs rather than playing (although folk festivals tend to have places for everyone to join in as well as listen).
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  • So did anyone see the Biggest Gig over the weekend? One of the folk bands creating the big noise along similar way to that that Bellowhead did, is Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band which is up on i-player. There has been a certain amount of cross-fertilisation as members of Bellowhead played in various of Eliza Carthy's bands before they established Bellowhead.
  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    Must listen to Eliza Carthy et al. I have all the Bellowhead albums. Latterly their concerts became so noisy you couldn't make out the words. I miss the Folk Club in Colchester that we sometimes went to when we lived in Ipswich.

    Proms in London, we used to go occasionally when we lived there, now left to listen or watch on BBC. Mind you we are going to a Shostakovitch concert here in Cardiff soon.

    Did you watch anything from Perth or Swansea on the Big Week-End?
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Would you consider Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen a gig? I'll be seeing the entire cycle in San Francisco in a few weeks.
    :smile: :smile: :smile:

  • Oh, I would. I've got tickets to La Bohème in July. I would like to see the entire Ring Cycle, but I need to be a member of the ROH to get tickets at times and a price I can afford
  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    You have my sympathy for going to the whole Ring Cycle. Scottish Opera used to have long intervals and advised people to take a flask and some sandwiches when they did it 4 nights in a row!!!

    Can't say I'm that keen on Wagner, although I quite like "The Flyding Dutchman."

    ROH is extorionate. Couldn't afford it. They don't need to charge those prices. It's a swizz. Enjoy "La Boheme" though, a lovely opera. Who's singing?

    Do you ever listen to "Live from the Met" on Radio 3 on a Saturday evening?

    Welsh Opera is much cheaper and just as good. We saw a fantastic performances of "Der Rosencavalier" and "Forca del Destino" this year. Their "Die Faldermouse" was a bit tired and the mezzo doing Orlovsky didn't have a good enough bottom range which spoiled it a wee bit.

    I grew up in Glasgow when Scottish Opera was at its height with Alex Gibson conducting. Oh the joys..................."Der Rosencavalier", "Don Gionavi," "Boris Godenov," Les Troyenes" (with Janet Baker.....drooooooollllllll), "Madame Butterfly," Cosi Fan Tutti".............. Those were the days. Opera at top notch with international stars and prices that you could afford.

    Saw a brilliant "Lady McBeth of Metensk" at ENO a few years back. Mind blowing.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Sympathy for experiencing the Ring Cycle?!? It’s been the #1 item on my bucket list for many years! (You can keep your “La Boheme” and the rest of Puccini, however.)

    I’ve been to the Royal Opera House once (Placido Domingo in “Nabucco”), and it was a lovely experience, though quite a splurge.

    Living in the western U.S., “Live from the Met” is broadcast on Saturday mornings, but I rarely listen – I like the full experience of hearing and seeing the performance. There are also some live broadcasts to cinemas, which I hope to do some time.

    I lived in New York City many years ago and took advantage of having the Met a subway ride away, buying the cheapest tickets. These days, I wouldn't be able to afford even those.

    Now I subscribe to Arizona Opera, which is very good, but they only do five productions a year. Lately, one or two of those five has been something "new" and often not my taste.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    I love the Ring Cycle. I've been in a couple, and I've attended three; I'm hoping to get to the Met for theirs next season. I listen to the Met on Saturday afternoons, and I used to be on the Opera Quiz several times a season, before Peter Gelb arrived and rearranged things.

    Oh, and I made it to Bayreuth (and saw "Dutchman") three summers ago.

    Opera is the greatest art form, because it includes all of them: singing, instrumental music, dance, drama, and the visual arts. But that also means that it's expensive. (I'm not sure what a "swizz" is.) It's labor-intensive, and virtually all of that labor is highly trained. Ticket prices cover only a fraction of the actual cost of putting it on.

  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    For those who like classical music, opera, etc.:
    KDFC non-commercial station, San Francisco, CA, USA.
    You can listen online.

  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    ... I used to be on the Opera Quiz several times a season, before Peter Gelb arrived and rearranged things.

    I remember hearing you on the Quiz! That was a fun program.
  • I'm hoping that I can get to Barking Folk Festival next weekend, but that's a bit weather dependent - personally I'm hoping for grey and dull - because Nancy Kerr and The Unthanks are going to be there on the Sunday.

    Although Show of Hands are playing the Sam Wanamaker Theatre at Shakespeare's Globe for an acoustic gig, which will be amazing.
  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    Wish I was in London for "Show of Hands"! Sounds really good at the Globe.
    Heard the "Unthanks" several years ago at the Aldeburgh Proms in Suffolk. May also have heard them at Colchester Folk Club. Like their clog dancing as well as singing.
    Think the Eisteddfod will have some good folk music though, here in Cardiff.

    Opera = expensive. Only because of greedy big name singers. My son works in the theatre and spent a summer working at Glyndeborne Opera a few years back. Very, very hard work 6 days a week rehearsing one production with full stage set in the rehearsal rooms during the day with a different production (and different singers - some only doing 3 -4 performances, some even less) in the evenings. He was totally exhausted. The singers didn't have such long hours as the technical staff and the production would have collapsed if there weren't techies to do scene shifts, lightening, sound, costumes etc. So why were the singers paid such huge salaries and the back stage people, who do longer hours and are just as highly trained don't? No singer is worth what some are paid for one performance - no matter how great a voice. That is why opera is so expensive.

    It is often cheaper to go to musical in the West End with top artists (and that's expensive because it is London), more costume changes and fancier sets, than opera at ENO or ROH. Holland Park is cheaper but it is on only on in the summer and is only available in London.

    When did the Royal Ballet or Royal Opera last tour the rest of Britain? 1970s I think (and that was Saddlers Wells Opera!) and yet every person in the whole of Britain pays tax into the Arts Council. ROH get's a huge proportion of the Arts Council's funds. ROH is only for the rich few in Britain who live in London or can pay London hotel prices if you can get a ticket at all (I tried to get a cheaper seat when I lived in London - impossible). Smaller opera companies up and down the country have had their budgets slashed and sometimes had to close through lack of funds - not ROH!

    Even if you go to the cinema to see a direct link performance (not always well filmed) from ROH or Met, the tickets are more expensive than the normal cinema tickets. A total swizz (racket - trying to make as much money as possible).

    Dance is not usually nearly so expensive to see (although Royal Ballet is expensive, the tickets are still cheaper than the RO). Top dancers don't get paid the extorionate fees that opera singers do. Dance is actually more expensive to put on, when you leave out the obscene fees for top opera singers - most leading ballerinas will go through 2-3 pairs of pointe shoes in a major 3 act ballet - and they aren't cheap! And you have a corps de ballet of 30+ for the big Russian ballets/3 act Macmillan ballets and many Ashton ballets & other ballets. Ballets have many more costumes, shoes, complex sets and costume changes, and usually as big or bigger an orchestra, than most operas. So how come they can have cheaper seats? Opera isn't that expensive if the singers and directors weren't so greedy.

    Opera, wonderful though it is - and it is, isn't always worth the ticket price.
    The food of love..........it costs the earth and is transient!
    Cheaper to buy a CD/DVD or listen o the radio!
  • I go to the ROH fairly regularly, paying for cheap seats and very rarely spend more than £15 for a ticket, which compares very favourably with West End musicals, which I do less often as I can't get as cheap tickets. I had tickets to Iolanthe at the ENO a couple of months back at around £15 each - front of the top tier - and saw Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins in Carousel last year at a similar price, again at the ENO. I am on the mailing list for both and buy tickets when I get the notification emails.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    I must confess that I'm another opera philistine, unless the music is by Sullivan and the words by Gilbert ( :blush: ) - I have fond memories of Yeomen of the Guard by the (then) newly-revived D'Oyly Carte in London in the mid-90s.

    When I lived in Orkney, we would get Scottish Opera's "Opera-go-Round", when they took a Proper Opera™ to the further-flung parts of the country. My mother loved it, but the only one I remember seeing was a very sensual production of Carmen, shortly before we left.

    As D. is fond of saying, most opera leaves us cold, but we'd travel a lot of miles for a good Choral Evensong. :)

    Quite a bit of my experience of live classical music was courtesy of the St. Magnus Festival in Orkney, which was founded in 1977 by Peter Maxwell Davies and the then organist of St. Magnus Cathedral, Norman Mitchell. It soon became quite a magnet for professional orchestras, choirs and other musicians, and also involved local musicians and productions of pieces written for local schools (my alma mater included). It's left me with rather more of a taste for the avant-garde than the Wagner.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Piglet wrote: »
    As D. is fond of saying, most opera leaves us cold, but we'd travel a lot of miles for a good Choral Evensong. :)

    I would also travel a lot of miles for a good Choral Evensong. In fact, I'm looking forward to Choral Evensong smack dab in the middle of my week of the Ring Cycle later this month.
    :smile:
  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    Oh Piglet I'm jealous of you going to the St Magnus Festival. Max Davis did a wonderful thing in setting up the festival. So sad he has gone.

    G&S: our school used to put their operettas on. I was in both art & music depts. so what did I do sing (or understudy a principal alto role) or paint the scenery and do costumes and back stage? I had staff arguing where to put me....nice but not nice.I remember during the second act of "Pirates," when the boys were up on stage, and I was doing art/backroom that year, we sewed all their trousers together and strung them out of the front school windows. We were naughty!!!!

    Glad you got cheap tickets for ROH & ENO Curiosity. All the years we lived in London we couldn't - except restricted view and that is hopeless for dance and some opera (We did get cheap subsidised tickets for ROH when our son was at "Central School of Ballet" a couple of times). If you can stand for hours in the "day return" queue you can sometimes get tickets for ROH & other theatres, but then if you work...................... or are disabled......................
    I had a work colleague who tried to get cheap tickets in the lottery at ROH for 5 years - never got anything. So well done Curiosity.

    Went last night to see Carlos Acosta's new dance group a the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff. Mixed bag. Couple of brilliant pieces, a good pas de deux and a classical ballet piece that totally lacked soul and added some silly acrobatic stuff and a weird piece to finish off. Still 3 good pieces out of 5. Great to see.
    Saddlers Wells (now focus on dance) and Ipswich Dance House (DanceEast) I really miss. Northern Ballet comes once a year to Cardiff, as does BRB and we have a very good small contemporary company. As to touring Siberian Ballet...................................no comment!!!!! I wouldn't go if you paid me. But I really do resent my taxes going to Royal Ballet and Royal Opera who never tour outside London now.

    Thursday night we go to a BBC Welsh Orchestra concert with Shostakovitch's 5th. Looking forward to that.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    WildHaggis wrote: »
    ...Opera = expensive. Only because of greedy big name singers. My son works in the theatre and spent a summer working at Glyndeborne Opera a few years back. Very, very hard work 6 days a week rehearsing one production with full stage set in the rehearsal rooms during the day with a different production (and different singers - some only doing 3 -4 performances, some even less) in the evenings. He was totally exhausted. The singers didn't have such long hours as the technical staff and the production would have collapsed if there weren't techies to do scene shifts, lightening, sound, costumes etc. So why were the singers paid such huge salaries and the back stage people, who do longer hours and are just as highly trained don't? No singer is worth what some are paid for one performance - no matter how great a voice. That is why opera is so expensive. ...

    I'm sorry, but I was an opera singer for a quarter of a century, and this just isn't true.

    Well, the part about the technical staff being underpaid relative to their hours is, but that's true for most people there, with the exception of a few - a very few - soloists.

    The hours worked doesn't have that much to do with it, though, because you can't sing for as long as you can hammer or paint. Voices are delicate; to do a big role every night would burn out anybody.

    Singers study for years, and spend a lot of money on lessons and coachings, wardrobes, managers, and a lot of other things. Most of them don't make that much. (The orchestra usually makes a lot more than the chorus, for example.) I was on the National Board of Governors of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA, the singers', dancers', and stage managers' union, and while the lucky singers make a living, the number who get big fees are vanishingly few.


  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    Re affording opera and other performances:

    --Some companies/venues have a program for volunteer ushers. In exchange, they get to see the performance for free. From what I've seen, they mostly work at the beginning and the end, helping people get seated in the right place. Some stand at the edge of the seating during the performance, and get to watch that way. Policies may vary.

    I haven't done that, but I have volunteered at another sort of event in exchange for free entrance. Worked well.

    --This is probably way obvious, but TV, videos, and You Tube have some really good productions. (In the US, "Great Performances" on PBS is wonderful.)
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    From the first St. Magnus Festival until we left Orkney 11 years later, I acted as a volunteer usher (I used to take a week off work for it), and it came as quite a shock when I went to the festival last year and had to pay for my tickets.
  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    I was a volunteer usher (among other things) at DanceEast in Ipswich (England) for a number of years, and saw some of the world's top contemporary dance companies and soloists. Brilliant.

    Volunteering can be really good if you can get it. But many big theatres employ/pay their front of house staff.
    If you can volunteer, it's great............except for the patrons who just dump plastic glasses, paper and ice cream cartoons on the floor, which you have to clear up on your "sweep" after everyone has left.
    I loved the years I was a volunteer usher though.

    TV - unfortunately here in Britain you rarely get much on TV re the Arts (dance and very, very rarely opera) - even BBC4.

    You can pay for cable/satelite TV - but not everyone has access to it through poor broadband or expense of the a satelite package.

    I have quite a few DVDs but sometimes you want to see a different production and singers.
    But we are fortunate here in Cardiff for opera and music.

    There is quite a difference between the States and Britain.



  • WildHaggis wrote: »
    Volunteering can be really good if you can get it. But many big theatres employ/pay their front of house staff.

    AIUI, Big Theatres often have a St John's Ambulance volunteer on hand to provide first aid if a patron is taken ill. If nobody gets sick, you'll get to see the whole show...

    (OK, I'm a couple of decades out of date - I had a couple of friends who used to do this. I don't know whether it still works the same way.)
  • But the UK has Live cinema showings - 6 operas and 6 ballets this year from the Royal Opera House, a number of productions from Glyndebourne. Big Screen Opera and Big Screen Dance
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    But the UK has Live cinema showings - 6 operas and 6 ballets this year from the Royal Opera House, a number of productions from Glyndebourne. Big Screen Opera and Big Screen Dance

    In the U.S., New York's Metropolitan Opera does the same thing. Ten operas this season -- anyone who knows me knows where I'll be on March 30 (and hopefully some others as well).

  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    Thank you for your comments Rossweisse. You had quite a long career. I hope you enjoyed it. I'm glad you worked for the American stage union. It is so important that those who work on the stage are protected by a union. As I know from my son and daughter-in-law who are involved in the theatre her in Britain. It is a good safety net - especially for things like pensions.

    However, I would like to take you up one or two points. The situation in the States seems different from that in UK re stage work. So I am speaking from the prespective of the British stage.

    Orchestral players study often longer than singers - usually starting as young children. They have to pay for their performance clothes, and their instruments cost hundreds of pounds - not like voices which you are born with. They rarely have the luxury of "resting delicate voices" - or hands! They play through a whole opera - singers don't sing every note. They rehearse & practice too with singers and on their own. They usually also play for ballets and concerts as well as operas in an opera house. Opera singers don't do that. So yes, hours do matter. Your voice is no better than a violinist or percussionist's talent.

    Dancers study even longer and their expenses are much greater than that of any singer and the can't rest their "delicate" bodies before a performance. Have you ever seen a ballet dancers feet? They go on, unless badly injured. Their hours and work are much longer than singers - morning class, afternoon rehearsal, evening performance and no luxury of a class or rehearsal in sloppy jeans and comfy jumper as do actors and singers. They have to pay for their own practice clothes and sometimes shoes if the company doesn't provide enough. A pair of Mindens will cost £100 and perhaps if you are lucky last 6-7 performances as a soloist in a 3 act ballet. Other shoes last less long - perhaps 2-3 pairs in a 3 act ballet. The top roles in a MacMillan ballet are much more exhausting physically than opera. You use your whole body and emotions. Try it! Singers are no better than ballet dancers.

    The arts are difficult for everyone. Everyone needs to be respected and it would be nice if they were all paid properly and not just the top singers (and there are quite a number who are paid thousands for 1 performance more than many make in a year!).

    I was very cross about your comments about techies. When were you last backstage in a modern theatre? How dare you insult people who are trained as much as you, and work as hard, or harder and who have equal talents - different from yours, without whom theatre performances would not exisit. It is no longer hardboard flats nailed onto a frame or painted canvas back-clothes by unqualified workers!!!!

    My son, a technical stage manager, had to have a degree in stage management to work in highly professional British theatres. So years of study. He has to be properly trained in Fire Safety, First Aid and other machinery certificates in order to keep performers, like you safe.
    and keep that training on-going as well as working full-time. On production change-over days, after curtain down and you have gone home to rest your "delicate voice", techies are still working until 2 -4am! And then they often have to do set up for the next performance less than 24 hours later.

    Modern stages are complex and Health & Safety is paramount and that needs years of training, especially when there is complex computer operated lighting, sound and stage machinery. Ever thought would happen if that chandelier in "Phatom" was not properly secured or operated? That is the techies who do that, to keep you singers onstage safe!
    My son has spent hundreds of pounds on his tools for his job and needs to know how to work them safely. Please show respect to highly trained people who keep actors,dancers and singers safe and keep shows on the road. When you are "resting" there are people doing hard work for many hours to allow you to sing opera for a couple of hours.

    Sadly many singers and actors ignore or even treat techies like dirt.
    But not all fortunately.

    Opera singers aren't the only ones who have long training, hard work, long hours and expenses. We need to respect all who work in the arts, not just those showy people on the stage.
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    edited June 14
    I would like to take this opportunity to remind folks (WildHaggis, this is a helpful hint for you) of the Ten Commandments, particularly Commandment five...Don't easily offend, don't be easily offended.

    jedijudy
    Heaven Host


  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    Thank you.

    I'm not offended. But we do need a balance in discussions.

    Music is the food of love.

    Maybe I'm getting too fat on it.

    Need some exercise. Any ideas?
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    WildHaggis wrote: »
    ...Orchestral players study often longer than singers - usually starting as young children. They have to pay for their performance clothes, and their instruments cost hundreds of pounds - not like voices which you are born with. They rarely have the luxury of "resting delicate voices" - or hands! They play through a whole opera - singers don't sing every note. They rehearse & practice too with singers and on their own. They usually also play for ballets and concerts as well as operas in an opera house. Opera singers don't do that. So yes, hours do matter. Your voice is no better than a violinist or percussionist's talent....

    They are different skills which demand different treatment. Singers also spend huge amounts of money on training - and not just for instruments, but in languages, dance, acting, and other skills - and for performance clothes (and women can't wear the same gown over and over again).

    I have the utmost sympathy for dancers. I don't think there's any point in comparing relative exhaustion, though.
    I was very cross about your comments about techies. When were you last backstage in a modern theatre? How dare you insult people who are trained as much as you, and work as hard, or harder and who have equal talents - different from yours, without whom theatre performances would not exisit. It is no longer hardboard flats nailed onto a frame or painted canvas back-clothes by unqualified workers!!!! ... Sadly many singers and actors ignore or even treat techies like dirt.

    Let's see - is last week recently enough for going backstage?

    It hasn't been "hardboard flats nailed onto a frame" for decades; the only time I encountered flats as a singer was when an ancient production was pulled out of storage.

    And I have the utmost respect for stagehands and the other technical staff. I'm not sure where you get the idea that I don't. They have been friends and colleagues, and we always supported each other.

    I don't think that it helps any of us to compare apples to oranges and kumquats. Everyone works hard in the performing arts; nobody (in the opera world, at least) gets a pass. I will note, however, that without "those showy people on the stage," there wouldn't be much employment for the backstage folks.

    And I think that I shall now withdraw from this discussion.

  • I know this is thread necromancy, but I didn't want to start another thread.

    On Tuesday night I saw Bat out of Hell the musical, which I loved, but as the original album is part of the soundtrack of my teenage and student years they would have had to do something quite disastrous for me not to like it. (The female lead wrecked Heaven Can Wait by blasting it out in power ballad style, but that was the only song). All of the first album, some of the second and a couple of tracks from the third album were used to tell the story, plus some other things I didn't recognise at all, in a very different order. The work colleague I went with also loved it, and she only really knew the title track. She enjoyed the special effects and way that it was staged in particular. The audience had a wide age range, but with the albums released in 1977, 1993 and 2006 the genre has had some longevity.

    So two questions - the introduction invited the audience to sing along, because we would anyway so it was easier to organise it than ban it, and the subtitles gave the words for quite a few of the songs. How happy are people paying to go to the theatre to sing along?

    Secondly, many of the current West End crop of musicals are being categorised as jukebox musicals - Mamma Mia, Motown, Thriller Live, The Simon and Garfunkel Story and Tina, currently on, recently here Beautiful, Jersey Boys, The Buddy Holly Story, Sunny Afternoon, Daddy Cool, Dusty .... the list goes on. Where does Bat out of Hell fit with its history of musical spawning the first album and the same creative mind recreating his original concept in this musical?
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