Review – Carissimi’s “Jephte,” Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” and Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” – English Touring Opera at the Theatre Royal, Bath

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We’re back from our weekend in Bath. I’m really tired, probably from swimming around in the pool on the roof of the Thermae spa. It was neat – cold rain came down on us while we were in the warm water, looking at the green hills and church spires through the spattered glass walls.

We stayed at Elgin Villa in an overly large room (a queen and two extra singles, wish we’d brought some more people!) quite close to the center of town, slept 9 hours both nights, went to some lovely CAMRA listed pubs (the Volunteer Rifleman’s Arms and The Raven), saw two nights of Baroque Opera at the Theater Royal Bath, hit the Christmas market over and over again (couldn’t get away from it, really, since it was also Smack Dab in the Middle of Town), bought some books (ooh, I held out for a month!), looked at costumes, and generally Frittered Our Time (and Money) Away. And we bought cheese, because Bath has an awesome cheesemonger’s shop but also a stand selling Bath Soft Cheeses.

Our first night we decided to see if we could get tickets to see the English Touring Opera’s performance for the night (Carissimi’s Jephte and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. We were lucky and got the 5 pound bench seats in the back – and the performance was quite sold out! The music was very good, but there was no set to speak of for either show, and the performers seemed to have forgotten that they could actually act while they sang, if they chose to. But for the price, we had no complaints, and figured the next night, with Monteverdi’s Orfeo, would make up for it.

Alas, this was not the case; though Orfeo had MORE of a set, the stage direction was atrocious! It was, in fact, so bad that it DISTRACTED from the action on the stage. Lovely quartet? How about having Orpheus have sex under a blanket while we’re listening to the people sing? Solo? How about having people get in a stick fight off on the side? We really just did not get what they were thinking, and, at the higher price we’d paid for these tickets, we felt quite annoyed. Come on, folks! It’s not like there aren’t people in this country who know how to direct! We were glad, though, we’d gone both nights, because if Saturday had been the “highlight” of our trip, I would have considered the weekend perhaps not all that well spent!

We rounded off our trip by going (on Sunday) to the spa. The Thermae Spas are not too expensive (20 pounds per person for two hours, but they make up for it with £2.50 towel rental, good gods!) and well-laid out, with a pool in the basement, four “aromatherapy” steam rooms (though the eucalyptus one smelt of cat box to me, ick), and the quite neat roof pool. However, the pools just weren’t warm enough for us, and I really wanted a proper jacuzzi. Still, we spent a very nice hour and a half chilling and soaking, and it was a nice end to our weekend.

(The performance of Jepthe and Dido and Aeneas too plake on December 1st, 2006, while Orfeo was December 2nd. This review copied from my old blog.)

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One Response to “Review – Carissimi’s “Jephte,” Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” and Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” – English Touring Opera at the Theatre Royal, Bath”

  1. Review - Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas - Royal Opera House « Life in the Cheap Seats - Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] thing, it must be very dull, I need to make sure the audience is entertained, a la the mortifying Orfeo we saw the English Touring Opera perform, and then my ability to enjoy what is coming in my ears is […]

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