22 July 2012

Silent, steadfast, forebearing

When David Reedy introduced Mozart’s Magic Flute, performed by the Canberra Opera Workshop, he noted that there should be no photos or videos for rights issues. It’s a bugbear of mine, but the intrusion of corporate power is increasingly common and often unwarranted these days. I took no pics, for the sake of the company, but where is the copyright in this performance? Mozart died ages back so there can’t be copyright on his music (unless someone has rearranged and claims control). There may be extant copyright on the English lyrics, but neither rearrangement or lyrics are recorded by photography. There’s copyright on the stage design and costumes, but that’s presumably local and I've found local performers welcome local recognition. These are community events and there’s no benefit in copyright for them. Now, I’ve had my rave, and for the company, I took no pics, but who suffers? We all do, including the performers.

So I started with a bitter taste in my mouth. The work is big and long and it was well done and opera is a strange thing. This was in English, so it was easier to follow than my previous experience with supertitles for Die Zauberflöte and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the daggy Papageno, Christopher McNee, with his stooping gait and I particularly liked the singing of tenor Tamino, David Smith. Also the choral segments which there were few but they were big and rich. I (quietly) sang along to the Papageno/a duo and wished that the Queen of the night, soprano Stephanie McAlister, could have sung with her own voice from centre stage. She had a great, imposing presence with a wonderful costume (that I can’t show you here!) but she’d lost her singing voice and was replaced by an off-stage live soprano (I don’t have her name but who did an admirable job), but the lip-synching and dislocation of the voice was unfortunate. The same had happened with one of the two armed guards (again, wonderfully presented, but I can’t show you here). I’ve been untouched, but I’m told it’s a winter of the flu. You couldn’t help but enjoy the overt performance of Leon Kavcic as Monostatos. And the bunches of women – firstly the three ladies then the three spirits – that were mystical and essential. I know nothing of opera, so this is presuamably trite, but Papageno and perhaps the Prince often sounded to me like Gilbert and Sullivan. But then this doesn’t seem unlikely. So, I can only admire a local company that will take on major works like this. It’s not the Australian Opera, but it’s decent and local and community. A worthy achievement and congratulations.

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