Monday, February 27, 2012


On the first warm sunny day for over a week, we went to the movies. Movie World, Oamaru, screens operas from the Metropolitan Opera, New York every second Sunday afternoon, and I would rather miss a rare sunny day than miss one of their screenings. Yesterday was The Enchanted Island, a new work by Jeremy Sims using music from Handel, Vivaldi and others to create a Baroque pastiche sung in English. Now that sounded really odd especially as most of the soloists sang with Italian or French accents but the singers were enjoying themselves as they sang and pranced about the stage and it showed. Not all the braoque effects sounded right in my modern ears.The villainous Prospero was sung by counter tenor David Daniels, and I can't get used to a woman's voice issuing from a man's throat.Imagine Dame Kiri with a beard and moustache!But the singing was superb, especially the duets and the choruses. The story line? The Lovers from Shakespeare's Dream are shipwrecked on Prospero's Island after Ariel has got her instructions mixed up and has wrecked the wrong ship. Lysander and Demetrius are magicked into forgetting their wives and chase after Miranda, Prospero's daughter who has the hots for her cousin Sebastian,Helena falls in love with the monster Caliban. It is all very complicated and funny, with many sly puns and references to the Shakespeare plays,in one scene dancers wear masks of Shakespeare characters. Eventually Ariel appeals to Neptune for help, and there is an incredible scene of his underwater kingdom, dolphins and mer folk 'swimming', Ariel in a diving suit, and Neptune aka Placido Domingo delivers a long solo asking why he should help humans after what they have done to his kingdom. He may have grey hair and wrinkles, but the voice is still magnificent. So we have Shakespearean comedy, baroque music, great singing,incredible stage effect and scenery, sumptuous costumes and topical allusions to modern issues. No wonder the Oamaru audience applauded.

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