Saturday, 13 February 2010

London Chinatown and The Elixir of Love

We just came back from buying tickets for Elixir of Love at the Colesium. I was remarking to Wyona that we were in the line-up at 4:30 and it was 5:30 when we walked back in the door. What I was thinking about is that first you have to scan the London Theatre Guides to see what is playing from drama, theatre, musicals. Then find out who can go on which day. Next make the trip to the theatre that morning of to get discounted seats, or try to pick some up at Leicester Square. Add to that, meeting there if you have to be there in person to get the cheaper seats.

The woman at the ticket wicket explained to us that she needs ID. Wyona and I were complimented that the woman think we looked that old. She explained that there are many concessions: those over 65; those who belong to the Actor’s Guild; students; the unemployed. How does a person have ID to show they are unemployed, Wyona asked. The woman said you get a card saying you are in that category.

Being unemployed and being able to pay £35 for a ticket to the opera seem like mutually exclusive propositions to me. For The Elixir of Love, Wyona and Greg got tickets in the dress circle. I was in the stalls – A22. How close do you think I was to the conductor? I could see his profile for the whole concert, the movement in his hands, the expressions on his face, his crouching, leaning, weaving, mouthing of the words. When I got home, I demo-ed some of the moves for Wyona and Greg for they were in the balcony. Yes, said Greg, I was watching the conductor as well.

“You have my husband’s seat,” said the older woman in a seat next to me. “I turned it in the day before last when I could see he couldn’t come. His mother is sick. Or says she is.”

“Too bad. How old is she?”


“I hope she has enjoyed many such concerts as these in her lifetime.” What else was there for me to say?

“Oh no! She would never come here. Thinks it is a complete waste of time and money.”

The music started. The curtain went up. The production was first done in Stockholm, created for their national orchestra. Rossini’s Elixir of Love, modernized. The story line is essentially the same but the text now in English; the setting 1950’s Texas; the costuming included hair rollers for the women and jean overalls for the men; the heroine’s wig was reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s blonde coiffure; the charlatan actually uses phrases from Elvis Presley’s songs and mimes his hip gyrations and foot work. The seargant chews gum when he isn’t signing. His jaw was still going at the end of concernt bows. 

I couldn’t not stop laughing at all of this, though no one else on my row appeared to find it amusing. “That’s the British for you,” I thought. However the audience did warm up to other humour. 

In the second act when scene was on the outside of the restaurant and the bathroom stalls were visible, a woman stood in the line-up to the toilets, crossing her legs and doing a dance as she waited her turn for the bathroom. After the first verse of a song by the chorus, the sound of a toilet rushing brought ripples of laughter. After the second verse, the same flush, and more laughter. By the time the third flush was heard, the audience was warmed up to the potty humour and loved the fact that the woman came out of the restrooms with her dress tucked up in her pantyhose at the back. Pointless lavatory sequence. That is what the reviewer called it. I am with the reviewer on that one.

Not fair to tell all of this, and not say the voices soared and the tenor’s love song brought a quiet hush to the house – a nice beginning for a Valentine weekend.



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