Thursday, June 11, 2009

Opera na Zamku

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the premiere of Piękna Helena (Beautiful Helen.) It's a modern adaptation of the wooing of Helen of Troy. The story has been modified to be a critique of modern politics and such. The full storyline and production notes can be read here. It's sung entirely in Polish.
Piekna Helena Poster
The promotional poster for the opera.

While I'm not the hugest opera fan, I did enjoy this production. I must say, it's awesome. Some chick totally gets naked on stage at the beginning of the second act, and there are several scenes where scantily clad women dance provocatively to classical music. (Actually, the girl comes out wearing nothing but a g-string and a tie, but from where I was sitting she seemed naked.) They actually hired three strippers from a local club to do the sexy dancing scenes, and one of them was the one that came out baring her money makers.
Besides the scarce nudity and such, I actually did enjoy the show (music and all.) It's an interesting concept and I must admit the tunes are actually pretty catchy. The whole thing, however, is actually more of a musical play than an opera. There's mostly dialogue interspersed with musical numbers, and this, apparently, was a matter of great grievance between the director and the cast. (The cast resented that they were expected to be actors, when they are actually just singers. The orchestra hated it too because they were forced to deal with a lot of downtime and be bored.) The chorus was humorously made up as clown, making it difficult to tell which were girls and which were boys. Also, the whole plot takes liberties with the actual storyline of Helen of Troy.
From what I could tell, the audience really enjoyed it. The people sitting next to me were chuckling throughout (I think they were laughing with it and not at it) and it got quite an ovation. One curious thing was the clapping in unison by the audience while the cast were taking their bows (kind of like they were clapping in a square dance.)

After the first night, there was a reception for the cast. It offered some hors d'œuvre and drinks, but I wasn't getting social with the cast. After the second night's show, there was a small gathering in the rehearsal room of mostly the cast and a few people from the orchestra. There were chips and drinks (obviously from someone's private stash. Half the alcoholic drinks were near-empty before the gathering even began.) Various people played tunes on the grand piano. Further into the night, when the drinks began to take their toll, the conductor sat down and began to play while the cast began crooning away in their rich, operatic voices (often changing the words for swears and nonsense.)
video
There ain't no party like an opera cast-party.

(These videos are of the actual cast—soloists, conductors, and directors.)
video
The finest of voices are at Opera na Zamku.

1 comment:

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