Thursday, 7 June 2007

Coincidences and new releases

In another strange coincidence, of which there have been several lately, after reading Chris Boyd's plug (welcome back Chris!) for Sarah Noble's fascinating opera blog Soggiorno Amoroso I took a break from the writing (more re-writing at the moment really, fiddling and fine tuning), and in my (brief) wanders found myself at the UNSW secondhand bookshop. There on the shelf I found, much to my surprise, a book entitled The Company We Keep: An Intimate Celebration of Opera Australia by Annarosa Berman (Opera Australia in association with Currency Press, 2006). This in itself was a curious coincidence, coming as it did immediately after reading several of Sarah Noble's posts about OA productions. Curious, I opened the book to a random place (my favored research methodology) and found a section describing the technical staff of the company, most of whom I know given that I've worked at the Opera House on and off for the last 11 years. And at the bottom of the page, I found a description of a technical disaster that occurred during a show that I worked on in 2005, The Love for Three Oranges, in which the scenic hoists broke down during a matinée-evening performance changover. As Berman describes, by 6pm (for a 7.30pm performance), the lifts were still non-functional, and there was serious discussion about canceling the performance (as does happen from time to time, and not only due to technical reasons, though we usually get the blame... like the time the viola player arrived an hour late, and the show had to be held, that too was billed as 'technical problems'). Anyhow, by 6.30pm the on site maintenance guys had managed to identify and correct the fault, and the crew heroically set the show up in 45 minutes to make the show go up almost on time. A high stress, extraordinary effort, written off in a paragraph in which it was declared that the Opera Australia crew made this happen. No mention of the Opera House crew, who provided the overwhelming majority of the labour in this case. Now I know this is an Opera Australia book, but still, as a member of this crew I must say that I felt slighted.

But at $25, I couldn't resist buying the book. It's pathological, I know.

For those who are interested in such things, there are new issues of RealTime and Performance Paradigm online now. And for the theatrical Sydneysiders, tonight is a triple opening for the performance crowd, with Stuck Pigs Squealing's The Eisteddfod opening at B-Sharp, Nigel Kellaway's Sleepers Wake! Wachet Auf! opening at Performance Space@ Carriage Works, and the funky youngsters of Post opening their new show Gifted and Talented at PACT. Too much goodness for one week surely!

2 comments:

Nicholas Pickard said...

That's so strange David.... the blogging world parallels are getting a little weird now... Opera Australia took me on a tour of their premises on elizabeth st a week or so ago (which I highly recommend) and they gave me a copy of that very book...

The photographs are absolutely beautiful and insightful....

And thanks for alerting me to the opera blog. It just gets better every day.

David Williams said...

Thanks Nick,

I haven't been into the Elizabeth St premises for some years, but they certainly are impressive, aren't they? Its always a blast to see how the other half lives! The stores over at Alexandria are pretty cool too - lots of great stuff to imagine using...

The book, well while the writing doesn't seem to critique the company in any way (its title does include the word 'celebration' after all), it seems like a nice enough overview of the company and its operations, and the pictures are indeed lovely. Though how they got Matt Court looking so calm and thoughtful I'm not sure.

And do check out 'The Eisteddfod' if you can, its great. If I had more of a brain at the moment I'd write a review. If wishes were brain cells...

dw