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Friday, 10 December 2010

Acting in Concert

Michael Fowler Centre
Even though my beloved's back is still very painful (thanks for all of your kind words of support) she insisted on going out to the Christmas concert last night at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.

This was a concert with the NZSO and a soprano + a choir. When she told me she had got the tickets, I was momentarily confused. A Soprano? which one? Tony? Carmella? Christopher?
No.  It wasn't them

No. It was a lady called Aivale Cole, singing soprano.

As usual we arrived just in time. Why is it when you're late every other idiot driver goes so slowly, especially in the James Smith Car Park?

We got to our seats, my beloved hobbling down the isle on my arm. She was in such obvious pain that nobody complained about the slow progress, even when we were going up the busy stairs.

Before we had left home, I had applied (at her request) a deep-heat patch on her lower back, and she'd popped 2 Paracetamol and a codeine. I think she was a bit zoned out.

However, back to the concert, which was really educational as I shall explain.

After we had been seated for about 5 minutes, the orchestra began to prepare and the choir began to assemble. The ushers closed the doors in preparation for the concert to start, and ....I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Whilst the orchestra looked down benignly, people were scrambling from the poorer seats to the better empty ones. We had booked quite late, so we were right down at the front, crammed into a corner, and all around us people were scrambling and shuffling and in several cases crawling over chair backs, moving to seats with a better view.
People scrambling like crabs

By the reaction of the orchestra and the rest of the audience, this was quite a normal act. I was astounded. I had never seen such actions before. It must be the Kiwi cultural attitude, as it would never happen in the UK.

As the concert progressed (I wouldn't recommend it) I spent most of my time looking at the members of the audience. It's actually the part I enjoy the most when the music isn't outstanding. The choir was OK, as was the soprano (just. Good pitch, but not enough volume) but the orchestra seemed to wish they were somewhere else.

The other educational bit came at the end, when the ensemble started on Handel's Hallejujah Chorus. Members of the audience began to stand. More and more of them stood up.

I was in a mild panic.

Had they changed the NZ national anthem to Handel?

Why had nobody told me?

I adopted the demeanour which has served me so well over the years.

Bugger it. I wasn't going to stand. I didn't care if everyone else was upright, I was sitting in a comfortable seat, and by God and by Jiminy I was staying there. So fuck every one else, I'd do what I wanted and to hell with conventions and acceptable behaviour. (Sounds just like some of our kids, doesn't it?)

As we left, my beloved (still hobbling bravely, but a bit more comfortable with the large gin helping the codeine) and I discussed the concert. Neither of us had particularly enjoyed the music, although the Hallelujah Chorus was nicely done, but the arrangements of some of the pieces and the choices themselves were rather uninspired. We were both giggling about the audience standing up.. We've both noticed a tendency of a Kiwi audience to go over the top with standing ovations, cheering etc. We reckoned it could be a hangover from the old colonial days, when the poor isolated Kiwis were so grateful that anyone actually wanted to visit their sheep-infested little country, that they went completely over the top just to convince the poor buggers to stay.

Please stay.  Our sheep are so pretty.


  1. I love classical music but agree that singing just doesn't do it for me either.
    Good on you for giving it a go.

  2. I'm with you on that standing nonsense. I sit down regardless of who it is.

  3. Agree. They over do the applause too.

  4. By the end of a concert my backside is usually so numb from the rubbish seats at concert halls that I'm glad to stand for a moment or two. Do the players think it's for them then?

    I'm with you on the instrumental V vocal side of things although I much prefer a choir to solo performances. I can't stand all that vibrato and expressions nonsense that go into getting the tune out. If they cant sing without making pained expressions/heavenward turned eyes or exagerrated shapes with their mouths they should be made to stand behind a curtain......

    And my niece is a soloist who has been told so to her face!

    Actually she may be my ex niece come to think of it.........

  5. Thanks for your support TC and Second. It's nice to know that there are other bolshie bastards out there.

    Actually Alistair, I would normally agree about the seats, the opera house and the TSB (The arena not the Scotsman)being especially aweful, but the seats in the Michael Fowler are pretty good. Up to cinema standard I would say. I do agree about the vocals, some of them are so pretentious that I just want to give them a head-butt. I must do more about my anger management.

    BTW, How can you have an ex-niece?
    It wasn't you who told her to stand behind a curtain was it?

  6. I'm holding my hand up on that one I'm afraid......


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