Caroline, Elizabether, and J were my companions for our trip to the Royal Opera House to see a mixed bill. The first one, “Seven Deadly Sins,” was absolutely the best (see picture). It actually was a sung operetta with dance accompaniment, the story of a girl who goes to the big city to make money and experiences all of the sins. It was very “3 Penny Opera”/”Cabaret,” unsurprising since the music was a Brecht/Weill collaboration (and with Auden doing the translation, it was truly a pleasure to listen, carefully, to the words). Sadly the singer wasn’t amplified well enough for me to actually follow what she was saying, which seemed very important given what was happening on stage. The movement was fairly interesting, but for this dance, I was most intersted in the story … and also the costumes! If girls always did ballet in corsets and garters, they’d be beating the punters off at the doors. Of course, they can always see this at a strip parlor, but probably not the rhinestone spangled thigh highs (likely from What Katy Did – never seen a lingerie place given credits for costuming before!).
This was followed by “Pierrot Lunaire,” a sad waste of Carlos Acosta. It was … I don’t know, twee. It made this grasp for high art and didn’t hit it and at 40 years of age had made the transition very poorly. The costuming and set was very conceptual, but … agh, let’s be honest, it all sucked because of the music. The style, Stimmtspiele or something like that, meant “sung/spoken,” but it meant this really screechy over exaggerated spoken style that, gosh, kind of reminded me of listening to Kabuki or Chinese opera, only without any redeeming musicality, or indeed anything to save my ears. It was 40 minutes but felt like an hour and a half. No wonder it’s only been performed 7 times since it debuted. I actually felt like my trust as an audience member had been abused and I was a bit afraid to go back in the auditorium after living through the dance beating of my life! I consoled myself with a quick bite of ice cream at intermission to make up for what I had endured, and returned, braced for the worst.
The final bit was “La Fin du Jour,” described as a celebration of the “long vanished life between the wars,” with girls in one piece suits and bathing hats being carried around by men in strange silk golf and cricket costumes. It was frothy and light and had as much substance as a big pile of pink cotton candy, but after Pierrot, I felt we had deserved our bit of fluff. Really, anything would have looked pretty good. We were exhausted from the middle bit, though, and bolted for the doors as soon as we could get out. That said, I’m still looking forward to the last mixed rep of the season, and I’ve already got my tickets bought and waiting.
(This review is for a performance on April 28th, 2007. The review was moved from my other blog.)