Baroque musings and a mailing list plea!

Monday 13 December 2010

Set model for Fantastic Mr Fox

Photograph of the set model for Fantastic Mr Fox.

This is a good time of year at ETO. The models for the Spring 2011 season have been in the office, and have made their way to the builders. Aspirations are high: all 3 of them look exciting, and feel tour-able.

It’s time to make some decisions – late! – about the Autumn, now that we know we will certainly be in operation then. It’s a baroque festival, so there is a lot of beauty to choose from. I wanted to do lesser known operas of Handel – Arminio, Ezio, Ottone – which are wonderful pieces, full of treasures and of strange dramaturgy. We have Tom Guthrie and Roger Butlin’s wonderful, Richard Dadd-inspired version of The Fairy Queen (Purcell) in view, and a revival of our stirring, blue Flavio, but I am veering to Xerxes (always sensitive to the long shadow of Nick Hytner and David Fielding’s superb, oft-revived production), to which I think we can bring something special, and which is at least known.

Alongside I am not nearly as far along as I should be with a staged performance of French liturgical music – Charpentier Tenebrae Lessons? in churches – a performance about light, and the loss of it, as the year darkens. Gesualdo and Bach concerts are on the cards for daytime, or late night, events.

I’d really like a 4th night of opera, of course. Amadigi: Handel’s delicate dissection of romantic love and heroism, a francophile Cosi fan tutte! But something in me is drawn to a production in the making, unfinished, raw – and evening of one light bulb and a chair Approaching Arminio. Could it be a night where something happens? I know people love the backstage bits of the Met broadcasts but could we make this really backstage, and still protect the performers, and feel secure enough ourselves to investigate something? I am sure people have no idea how detailed, thoughtful and dangerous preparation and rehearsal can be. Can we show this without faking it?

One thing about this time of year is not good. As we prepare to communicate with people about the next seasons, we are again confronted by the thick fog that prevents us gaining access to the names of the people who book for our shows. By and large, theatres do not share this with us – so we are reduced to expensive, inefficient, scatter gun communications, often appearing in the same households several times. If you want to hear our news first, please send us your email address and let’s communicate like the people we are!

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