Monday, 24 January 2011

Symphony in the Domain - Shakespeare


The afternoon reached about 29C, the sky was a brilliant blue. And sydney-siders dawdled in with their eskies and low chairs, ready to stake out their patch for friends arriving later. We all have our theories, re best possie. I like along Art Gallery Road, out of the sun, and within eye/ear-shot of the artillery. The only hassle with arriving early is that the music does not start until 8pm.


Brett Weymark, the musical conductor of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs tapped the podium for the choirs, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the brilliant Mr John Bell, arguably Australia's pre-eminent Shakespearian actor, and head of the Bell Shakespeare Company for yonks (over 20 years).


The program commenced with Nicolai's music for his opera based upon 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' which I have on LP, so that was fine. Then we segued into William Walton's music for the 1939 Olivier version of 'Henry V' where Bell came into his own with rousing declamations from the battlefields about bands of brothers and stuff. I am a devotee of Branagh's DVD of his play.

I was a bit disappointed with the meagre selection from Mendelsohn's music from 'Midsummer Night's Dream' - not a bridal march in sight. The program proper concluded with the bold and courageous choice of Prokofiev's music for "Romeo and Juliet'. It was romantic in turn, and dramatic in turn, but ... I guess I needed to know it better.

What I did enjoy, though, was the combination and the deft control of Weymark. I had only a sideways view of the orchestra, and no view at all of the choir, except a distorted view on the large screen. But I did not need to see - not with ears to hear! And they soared! Often without words, but with glorious scat - are you allowed to call it that? I loved the combination more than anything else.

Will get tickets to both Bell Shakespeare's 'Big Julie' as well as MSND in the Botanic Gardens.

Terrific night. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Will go again next year. Now to check the Shakespeare and the Philharmonia websites.

19 comments:

Luis Gomez said...

Sounds like you had great time!

brattcat said...

Add music critic to the long list of your talents.

Susan said...

Nicely put. Sydney is on my must go visit list, and I shall add an outdoor concert while there to the details! Great photos as well -and as usual your attention to detail pays off!

Kay L. Davies said...

Love how you got some Aussie-isms in there at first, then dropped them when you went into full music mode. And yes, as Susan says, your attention to detail - you amaze me. Are there printed programs? Do you make notes on the margins?
A wonderful read, Julie. I enjoyed it, and your photos.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

JM said...

Great post, Julie! The two top shots are my favourites.

Peter said...

John Bell = National treasure.
wished I was there, love the umbrella shot but all good.

Vicki said...

Stunning photography in both this post and the previous one, Julie. I especially like the "cropped" shots.

Is the Kathy Reich's novel yours? Are you enjoying it?

Ann said...

Already have my Bell subscription - really enjoyed it last year, particularly Twelfth Night with its bushfire setting. Hope they do a concert like this again. Saw Bigger than Jesus yesterday. Very good, not as subversive as I'd hoped but very well done. Also decided I should have a look at the Fringe when I'm in Adelaide - huge program and difficult to navigate so decided to spend an evening at the Garden of Unearlthy Delights and picked up tickets to One Man Lord of the Rings and Punch and Judy take Afghanistan.

Bob Crowe said...

Finally home. Our excellent symphony rarely plays outdoors but we know the concept of arriving early to grab space. We have Shakespeare in our big city park throughout June. To see the players, we arrive about two hours early with a piknik supper. Then I wander around and take photos of the crowd.

J Bar said...

Lots of great shots. I like the umbrella shot too.

Julie said...

Vicki: the shots you think are cropped, aren't. All the closeups are uncropped. However, the long shots ARE cropped. The Kathy Reich novel was being read by the woman in front of me. I am currently reading a book of short stories, 'Yesterday's Weather', by Ann Enright.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Like many others I like the umbrella shot. I find I generally don't enjoy music I am unfamiliar with as much as more familiar pieces.

diane b said...

Sounds like a good way to spend an evening, surrounded in Sydney culture. I like the last shot, I wonder what the light source was.
Everyone raves about Bell but we saw the Bell Shakespeare Company's King Lear and it was awful. It is the only play that Bill and I have ever left at interval. There were many more who joined us. Yet I only hear of glowing reports of the company.

Julie said...

Mmmm ... when did you see this - about when? I remember taking Kirsten to see Bell in 'King Lear' at the Wharf Theatre probably in '96/'97 - around then. It was very spare, very dark. But that is Lear. From memory, he sat on a rock or bench and there was not much other 'scenery'.

We both loved it. Threw the entire emphasis back on the words. I have this evening checked the schedule for their three offerings this year (Caesar, Faustus, Much Ado) and I can fit them all in. Shall make a decision tomorrow. The Caesar is set in Canberra - Big Joolya.

Julie said...

Sorry, the light source on the Kathy Reich's book? Whatever there was around. I rarely use flash. There was no street-lamp. We were under trees.

It was taken at 7:15pm as follows:
F5.6
1/125
ISO 200
163mm

Vicki said...

Julie, I realise the shots weren't cropped, which was why I had the word enclosed in quotation marks -- cropped but not cropped, so to speak. :)

Julie said...

*Hah* ... got you now ...

Virginia said...

Gorgeous but the hands knocked me out.
V

Virginia said...

OH and the hat.