“It’s like Britain’s Got Talent, except all the performers are talented and… there’s no Jedward. Hmmm. Jedward: The Opera, now there’s an idea!” That was how composer – and our compere for the evening – Orlando Gough chose to introduce the first Exposure evening, featuring snapshots of operas in development, which was held last night at the Linbury Studio Theatre in Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House. He did also say some rather more sensible and serious things about the evening, with sharp observations about the difficulties of getting new opera put on, and the pressure that can create for composers.
A very lively and engaging compere he was, with a snippet of interesting information and a quip for every segment performed. Pondering our own contribution, Cocteau in the Underworld, he mused, “Ah Jean Cocteau. The only poet I know whose name is made up of two body parts.”
The event was a cabaret-style evening, in that we sat at tables and sipped drinks purchased from a bar in the auditorium (if you could afford them! – this was still the Royal Opera House). The audience was somewhat more respectful than the usual cabaret audience. There was no talking or walking around during the performances.
To liven things up a little, Gough had devised a musical “election-prediction machine”, which called for a moment of audience participation in the second half. We were invited to join in a round made up of the party leaders’ names “Dave, Gordon, Nick…” Oh, with gorgeous George (Galloway) thrown in for comic effect. The singing was stopped at a random point – and whoever’s name was being sung at that moment was predicted to win the election. In the event, the result was inconclusive, so the musical swingometer confirms the pundits’ expectations: it’s going to be a hung parliament.
As for the opera snippets themselves, a broad range of musical – and dramatic – styles were represented. I was extremely pleased with how our piece came across. The new element of video projection, devised by Metta Theatre‘s Poppy Burton Morgan and Will Reynolds, was very exciting, and went some way towards mapping out a visual style for a full production. Roll on Grimeborn Festival in August!