Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scenes from Springtime in London

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Music: Daniel Boys

Thanks to a large volcanic ash cloud which stranded Johnnyfox in New York (not that he minded by his tweets), I was lucky to catch Daniel Boys at Pizza on the Park Thursday evening. Daniel has appeared in various shows including Avenue Q and has recently released an album  So Close, that has become very popular...

All of this has given him the opportunity to showcase his talents and charm in the intimate space of Pizza on the Park. It was Daniel, a great band and an audience. An audience that appeared to be mostly very appreciative women. There must be something about his boyish charm, enthusiasm and lovely vocals that drives women crazy. While they weren't throwing an underwear on stage I wondered whether this was simply because they weren't wearing any.

Anyway, Daniel performed mostly on a stool behind a music stand and looked loveable. This might have seemed a bit odd if you were directly in front of him (unless you like singing music stands), but fortunately I was off to the side. What was nice about the performance was his ability to give a fresh interpretation to a number of songs I had heard many times before. And of course he sounded great. I would prefer if artists could avoid the songs of John Bucchino and go for something lighter and fresher sometimes, but I guess you can't have everything.

Daniel stayed around signing autographs and his album is a treat. But so is seeing him live. This series has sold out but he is appearing at other venues later in the year... Pizza on the Park closes this June and while I will miss the eighties decor, I suppose all good things have to come to an end... As the audioboos suggest, while the men at my table weren't about to throw their underwear, good times were had by all. And it wasn't just the wine talking (hic).


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Opera: Il Turco in Italia and Prima Donna

It was a weekend for checklist operas. Once you have seen them you can mark them off your list as never needing to see them again.

First up was Il Turco in Italia at the Royal Opera. Here was a great cast let down by Rossini's over plotted and overlong opera. Still when the cast could sing and act it was hard to be annoyed and wish they would get on with it. Ildebrando d’Arcangelo as the prince and Aleksandra Kurzak as the errant wife made infidelity seem so glamorous too. I also wasn't so sure about the cardboard cutout set, but I did like the sleeping cat. There should be more stuffed animals in productions.

The Royal Opera also continues its trend for non-singing beefcake in productions (following on from the Rake's Progress), with a muscle man parading in his speedos at the close to taunt Kurzak's character one more time. Leaving the theatre we almost ran into him racing towards the tube station. He was almost unrecognisable in his tight t-shirt but the glowing tan was a giveaway... It finishes Monday night.

Saturday night was a chance to catch Rufus Wainwright's opera Prima Donna at Saddler's Wells, which had its premiere in Manchester last year. Whereas Il Turco in Italia had enough plot for two operas, this had barely any. It was a bit of the third act of Traviata meets Sunset Boulevard. An opera about a singer who has lost her voice, gives and interview and then an autograph is never going to work... Especially when the music sounds like Puccini on a bad day and no cliche was left unwarmed. The booming orchestrations didn't help either as they simply served to confuse everything and also drown out the singers. I wasn't quite sure at times either what we were listening to could pass for singing either...

All told, it felt like a one act opera drawn out to two and a half excruciating and hours... Afterwards we escaped to Soho for a drink. It was bewhildering what to make of it sober as the following Audioboo can attest. Here's hoping Rufus continues to write music, but lets hope he has got writing operas out of his system...