Edinburgh Players Opera Group: Parsifal: Portobello Town Hall 30 September 2012
As before, I was in the second violins ( I think there were four of us this time), and as usual it was a wonderful experience to see and hear a Wagner music drama taking shape before our eyes and ears. For general background I refer you to the first four paragraphs of my review of 2011's Götterdämmerung here, and for a detailed cast list (as well as a very positive review) I will point you to Opera Scotland here.
What can I add? It was great having Elaine McKrill back. Along with Gerard Delrez, Jonathan Finney and Nicholas Fowler she is one of "our" singers, having made her first appearance with us back in 2002 (singing Brunnhilde, of course). Jonathan appeared in 2005 to sing Tristan and keeps on coming back. I can't remember precisely when Gerard and Nicholas first sang with us: possibly 2001. Anyway, as ever it was a thorough joy to work with such fantastic talents. Amateur orchestras usually raise their game when working with really good soloists, and that's just when playing concertos lasting maybe half an hour at most. Imagine the impact of spending around fifteen hours rehearsing with four top-class singers, and then performing with them for over four hours. No wonder we keep on doing it.
What else? We've nearly gone round the block twice (Mike Thorne's passion is for the seven "music dramas" rather than the earlier "operas" (so that's the Ring, plus Tristan, Parsifal and Meistersinger). This year (2013) we will be reprising Tristan, and in 2014 it's a fair bet that we shall be doing Meistersinger. My guess is that we'll stop then: Philip Taylor, the originator of the whole crazy scheme, is too old and frail to keep on doing even the reduced workload he now has, while Mike Thorne....it is unbelievable the effort he puts in, He has to come up from South-East England for a start (he's Vice-Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University), and averages rather more than an hour a day all through the year preparing his scores. Any normal mortal would have packed it in after the first seven-year cycle, but not Mike. Still, each year he gets a little greyer and looks just a little more tired (as do we all), and I suspect he may call it a day after 2014. But what do I know? Maybe he'll decide he has one more Ring left in him. It is astonishing to think that this whole enterprise kicked off back in 2001, about a fortnight after 9/11. I persuaded my management to allow me to defer my departure for India by a few days so I could play in Rheingold, and I've played in every performance and rehearsal since. This year, if I am lucky enough to have teaching work, I may have to miss the Friday afternoon rehearsal, which will be my first skipped rehearsal in thirteen years.
Anyway, was there, did that (again) and proudly wear the T shirt (which should be forbidden to mere spectators!)