Friday, 9 July 2010


Well what a day. There were another 9 hours of festival - this really is the marathon of marathons, but I said at the beginning of the week that it would be arduous and exhilerating and it surely is! In equal amounts of both.

It is a long time since I adjudicated so many duets as I have this week. Duet singing is such fun - all the pleasure and only half the responsibility, and today we had around 8 operatic duets. They ranged from the usual La ci Darem la Mano from Don Giovanni through to an absolutely lovely Hansel and Gretel duet from the opera of the same name. When I was about 25 I played the witch in the Humperdink opera Hansel and Gretel, which is more like Wagner than Wagner, and my costume consisted of a huge green full length billowing frock, a green wig, green nail extensions and I was painted green on every part of my anatomy which showed.

We went through all the rehearsals, then finally got to the moment where they brought in the small children who were to play the Gingerbread Children. There were about 20 of them all aged between 6 and 8. All went swimmingly for the few blocking rehearsals and the Tech and then we got to the Dress. I was holed up for hours being painted, nailed and generally greened up, and finally after around 2 hours I stepped triumphantly out of wardrobe and make up to be met by a corridor of screaming and sobbing small lederhosened children who were mortally terrified of me, and the more I tried to tell them I was just the lady they knew in a green costume the more they screamed.

Mothers appeared from every door and window in the building, children hurled themselves at the indignant mama's and I felt like an overdressed and decidedly bilious child molester. I was then informed by front of house that under no circumstances was I to 'wander unattended' in the region of said small screamers' dressing areas ! I asked rather indignantly, what am I supposed to do on stage, to which the director replied, that was fine because the children knew it was'nt real!? Off stage however, clearly I was quite real, in my alter emerald ego, 'the wickedly green witch of the opera touring regions'. Small children - the tyranny of the tiny.

To resume, the H&G duet was so good, 2 young adult females playing a small girl and boy ? Clever! They were great, and peeped out from behind a screen to make their entry, then proceeded to captivate us with their childlike impressions, but never once tipping over into caricature. The music from H&G is majestic and thrilling, the orchestration requires a brass section the size of a small town, and singing over that is like riding on the crest of a huge wave of sublime noise. It's even better if you sing it wearing green accessories. Believe me.

Did I suddenly develop a green aura today, especially to scare them?

Nah ! They just got on with the job.

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