|Sometimes working in a Theatre box office is amazing - last week was one of those moments.|
Porgy & Bess is one of Gershwin’s greatest master pieces and yet it is very rarely given justice in this country. This is why when I first heard about Cape Town Opera's production of this classic I was first in the queue to purchase the best available seats. Thankfully in this instance no early morning queuing was needed as the venue in question was my work place, The Marlowe Theatre (Canterbury), so all that was needed was a willing box office bod to take some card details (Bliss!). That moment was around 5 months ago - fast forward to last week when the production arrived.
Setting the scene - The venue was on top form. We had managed to sell all available seats with a few weeks to spare ('Like Gold dust' doesn't even compare to how much people wanted to see this show). The day before the show was to commence a visit into the auditorium was needed where I found what looked like the contents of a skip being unloaded, hammered, bolted and forcefully positioned into some sort of order by a mass of technical wizards (see the video at the bottom of this blog to see what it looks like). The set is stunning - designed to look like the streets of a poor and divided Soweto (South Africa), a fitting design that mimics the American streets (Catfish row - Charleston, South Carolina) the opera was originally about.
The next day was show day - Music billowed from the changing rooms every time we wondered past. The deep voices of the Porgy's could be heard in all the admin rooms of the theatre. The lead roles of both Porgy and Bess were split between a few singers to help with the pressure of the tour. The Cape Town Opera has been renowned for many years as being the creator, trainer and developer of great opera and great performers, and this latest group really were the bee's knees. I think before I go any further with this praise, please take a moment to listen and watch the link below.....
Wow does not even get close to expressing how I felt after the first few bars of full chorus once 7.30pm passed. The opera is truly amazing, filled with suspense, lust, heroes, villains and lovers. The performance was way beyond all expectations in my mind - but if I had one niggling feeling, it was let down slightly by our positioning. Usually our preferred seating - upper circle row B - is one of the best places to sit as the sight lines are great and the acoustics are special, but in this instance, with a full orchestra situated in the pit (first 5 rows of the stalls lowered down), they were often too overpowering for some of the soloists - a issue that I’m sure will have been resolved by the time they arrive at the London Coliseum later this month.
I was going to call this blog - the voice box I would love to steal. This is due to the sound that bellowed from the vocal chords of the leads that played Porgy. I love singing and it’s almost worth me catching a cold so as to make my voice even deeper - just to give me the slightest glimmer of the sound they produced. I wish them all the success possible as they finish off their UK tour with a trip to the west end. I really hope this is not there final visit to our shores.