1 EAGLETON NOTES: A Little Bit of Culture

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Thursday, 31 January 2019

A Little Bit of Culture

One of the advantages of being in Glasgow for a while is the opportunity to go to live concerts.

Today we are going to see the concert pianist Stephen Hough play at the Glasgow City Halls - one of several splendid concert venues in the city. 

Last night, however, was an opportunity to see Verdi's opera, La Traviata. It was being streamed live from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to one of the cinemas at Glasgow's Cineworld (together with cinemas around the world).

I was brought up in the era when cinemas were huge, cramped, crowded and smoke-filled and, as a youngster, trying to see round the head of the person in front could be a real challenge. The luxury of the modern cinema with its big, comfy seats, plenty of room and no heads to be looked round or over never ceases to amaze me. 

Of course there is nothing like  the atmosphere of being in the audience of a live performance but the detail that one sees on the big screen as well as the wonderful sound makes up for the lack of atmosphere. 

The lead role of Violetta was played by the magnificent Albanian soprano Ermanelo Jaho.  She made her Royal Opera debut back in 2008 in this role and is, without a doubt, the most convincing and emotionally challenging interpreter of that role that I have see. I unashamedly shed tears through a lot of the last act.  Alfredo was sung by Charles Castronovo who has played in the role opposite Jaho on many occasions and the chemistry between them showed. Alfredo's father was sung by Pl├ícido Domingo who has now played all the leading male roles in the Opera at the Royal Opera House.

20 comments:

  1. Back here in the hinterlands one doesn't get out much. Never in my entire life did I ever expect to see the words "magnificent Albanian soprano" juxtaposed. I went to youtube, though, and they are correct. (P.S. - my wife's parents were Albanian, which I suppose makes my wife Albanian too. I pick right up on things like that.)

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    1. Bob, I've never knowingly come across an Albanian opera singer before either although I've discovered that there are a few of renown. Jaho is, however, exceptional and, given my love of opera, I can't understand why I'd not heard of her before.

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  2. I enjoy live anything but would balk at paying silly money for it second hand in a cinema. I have booked to see Mark Knoffler on the twenty something of May in either Glasgow or Edinburgh. Reminds me I must check where and when. I guess he could improve my three cord repertoire. I hope so, he charges mega bucks just to listen. Silly money but he is sold out. If he doesn't sing Romeo and Juliet I will be first in the queue for my money back.

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    1. Adrian, oddly Anna and I watched Local Hero the other evening and, as a fan of Mark Knopfler since he co-founded Dire Straits in the late '70s, I enjoyed it as much for his soundtrack as for the humorous content (and Jenny Seagrove).

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  3. Opera is one thing I've never experienced firsthand. Or, more specifically, "The Opera". I've heard operatic music sung, of course... but never been "to the opera". I'm not a huge fan of operatic singing, but I think I really would enjoy a fully staged operatic performance, trusting that the action would deliver the plot sufficiently that I wouldn't have to actually understand the words being sung. I think I would hate an opera sung in English...
    My most recent foray into the world of theater was when Bear and I saw "Phantom" on Broadway - SO wonderful!! Someday, perhaps, "the opera". Thanks for sharing your experience... it whets the appetite!

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    1. I'm glad, Mrs S, that it may have whetted your appetite. Your point about opera being sung in English has a certain significance. Of course some were originally written in English. However to hear Verdi or Mozart or Wagner in a languages other than that of the original librettos is very peculiar. I do hope that you get to experience 'The Opera' live some day. I think you'd love it (provided it's the 'right one' for you).

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  4. I have never been to a live Opera, but do have a reasonable collection of music. I quite expect that is how it will remain.

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  5. La Traviata is one of my favourite operas. But then of course it is a Verdi opera, and those are - in my opinion - the best. Nobody did it like Verdi!
    It's been years since I have last been to the opera, ballet or theatre, in spite of living so close to several venues with high-profile play lists.

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    1. Meike, I used to go to the ballet a lot in New Zealand but only once to the opera. The person with whom I went is a singer but definitely didn't like opera; preferring medieval music or choral works. However, I can indulge myself with friends here in Scotland whenever the opportunity presents itself. The rest of the time I make do with CDs or DVDs.

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  6. never been to an opera here, not really into them but yes I remember the movies from younger days, they were a treat back then.

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    1. Amy we didn't have a television until I was 15 so the cinema was a real treat> Now we take all these things for granted and they are no longer a treat.

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  7. Beautiful. I remember when movie houses were 25 cents for a Saturday matinee, and folks, cheer, clap, scream, and overall react like humans do.

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    1. Maywyn I can't recall how much the movies were when I was young but we did react to things as if the actors could hear us. Now I notice that the intervals are punctuated by on-screen tweets from people watching all over the world.

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  8. I've only been to a "live" opera once in my life, I think. It was a long time ago, and I'm not even sure now whether it was The Barber of Seville (Rossini) or Figaro (Mozart)... (I think it was the former) What I remember best is that they had some live animals on stage, which must have been somewhat of a challenge!

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    1. Monica, I've never seen The Barber of Seville so far as I can recall. I'm pretty sure that I've never seen a live animal on a stage production either.

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  9. How wonderful! I would've unashamedly been shedding tears along with you. And, even more so when the magnificent Placido appeared! It would be fantastic to see. I hope one of the streaming services pick it up...and I will be hear bawling my eyes out watching it via my TV! What an awesome experience!

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    1. Lee, Placido got a huge ovation from the live audience at the end. However I thought that the really appreciative applause should have gone to Ermanelo Jaho: possibly the finest Violetta I've ever seen or heard.

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  10. As I know almost nothing about opera I feel terribly unqualified to comment on this blogpost but after your recent health issues, it must be awfully pleasant for you to immerse yourself in an art form you clearly love. Remember to take a box of man-size tissues next time you go to see an opera.

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    1. Thank you, YP. It was wonderful to get completely lost in something other than matters medical. I never to to the opera without a few very large handkerchiefs. When it comes to music, particularly opera, I get very emotional.

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