Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Opera Couch visits Don Giovanni in Mainz

I was very pleased to welcome Clia as my very first guest on Opera Couch where we attended a performance of Don Giovanni in the Staatstheater Mainz.

Here is what Clia has to say about her impressions (translation follows): http://cafeclia.com/2014/06/10/operncouch-don-giovanni-mainz/ 

And here are my own thoughts on Tilman Knabe's controversial new production:

Thank you Clia for a very stimulating evening! And thanks to Staatstheater Mainz for making it possible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Meet Opera Couch's first-ever guest blogger, Clia

Meet Claudia Vogel who has kindly agreed to being Opera Couch's first-ever guest blogger.

Claudia -- or Clia -- is a communications expert specializing in texts that are understandable for everyone, especially those without formal or higher education, people with learning or language difficulties or people suffering from dementia.
She gives workshops and develops in-house concepts for "barrier-free" communication within companies.

For the first-ever Opera CouchStaatstheater Mainz has generously agreed to make available two tickets for a performance of Don Giovanni in a new staging by Tilman Knabe. 

Clia, what are your musical interests? 

That changes constantly. As a child, I loved Mozart. My current favourite is Vaughan Williams.
Last winter I was totally obsessed with Naji Hakim. And in the summer I became huge fan of Florence and the Machine.
I never had the opportunity to really get involved with music. A lot of what I discover is through friends. And nowadays YouTube is a good way to explore and get to know new music. A few mouse-clicks and a whole new sound world opens up to you. 

Do you sing or play an instrument?
No, unfortunately not. My mum was a single mum, so there was never enough money for music lessons. That was always the cause of a drama and tears at the start of every new school year, right through until I was teenager. But there was nothing that we could do about it. 
Later on, I never found an opportunity to learn to play an instrument or take singing lessons because I was too tied up with my job. 

Do you have any experience of opera?

I like opera, but it's not part of my everyday life. 

What operas have you seen? What did you like about them and what didn't you like?

We saw Freischütz at school because it was part of the curriculum in Bavaria. At uni, one of my fellow students dragged me to see Salome in Frankfurt. And I shared a flat with a directors' assistant at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden where I got to see Die Zauberflöte and Eugen Onegin. In that respect, you could say I developed a bit of a taste for opera. 
I also saw Carmen once but I walked out at the interval. I can't remember why. 
Nowadays I watch opera on YouTube or on television. I recently learned about a livestream from Munich via Twitter. That is something I'll have to keep more of an eye out for in future.
As for live opera, I live in Wiesbaden where the audience is too conservative for my taste. I simply don't feel comfortable there. 

What is it that prevents you from going to opera? What would have to change so that you would go more frequently? 

I'd need more free time so that getting there wouldn't be so much of a problem. 

With Opera Couch, you'll be seeing Don Giovanni in Mainz. Will you prepare for it in any way? How?

I've read a few reviews so far. I hope I'll be able to watch the trailer on the website beforehand so as to have a better idea what it's all about. 

If there is an introductory talk will you go? 

I won't be able to make it. 

One of the most frequent complaints is that opera is too stiff and too formal and the audience is too snobby. Do you think people should dress up to go to the opera, or should they go in jeans and a T-shirt if they want to?

I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable, both in yourself and in what you're wearing. Otherwise you won't really be able to enjoy it. 

What do you hope to gain from Opera Couch? 

To be honest, I asked to go on Opera Couch because I liked the idea of doing something special before my next birthday. Something I wouldn't normally get to do. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Welcome to Opera Couch!

Have you ever fancied going to an opera, but felt put off because you think it's only for the old and rich?

Would you like to give it a try, but feel intimidated by the stuffy, snobby atmosphere and the high ticket prices?
Do you think opera is just a bunch of fat women in horned helmets screaming their heads off?

Do you feel the plots are ludicrous, the stories irrelevant and the music old-fashioned, dragging on for hours and hours?

Well, I'm planning a new column, Opera Couch, where I invite you to challenge those pre-conceptions, come along with me to a performance and blog about the experience afterwards.

If you're interested in taking a seat on the Opera Couch, just get in touch at Simon.Morgan@gmx.at or via Twitter (@SP_Morgan).

I'll ask you to fill out a short questionnaire (musical interests, etc.) beforehand (for publication here) and then you write a warts-and-all report of the entire experience afterwards. 

(PS: The idea for Opera Couch came from blogger Ulrike Schmid, whose very readable and highly entertaining blog -- and corresponding Konzert Couch -- you can find here: www.orchestrasfan.de )

Haben Sie je davon geträumt, in die Oper zu gehen, aber dachten, es sei etwas nur für Alte und Reiche?

Hätten Sie schon Interesse, aber finden die Atmosphäre zu steif und zu versnobt, die Kartenpreise zu hoch?

Wenn Sie an Oper denken, denken Sie automatisch an übergewichtige Schreihälse mit Speer und Helm?

Finden Sie die Handlung lächerlich, die Geschichten irrelevant und die Musik altmodisch und langatmig?

Ich plane eine neue Kolumne, Opern Couch, wo ich Sie dazu einlade, solche Vorurteile zu überdenken und mich in eine Vorstellung zu begleiten, um nachher darüber gemeinsam zu bloggen.

Wenn Sie Interesse haben, auf der Opern Couch Platz zu nehmen, melden Sie sich unter: Simon.Morgan@gmx.at oder per Twitter (@SP_Morgan)

Alles was Sie tun müssen, ist vorab einen kurzen Fragebogen zu Ihren musikalischen Interessen auszufüllen (die Antworten erscheinen dann hier), und nachher über die Erfahrung zu bloggen.

(Die Idee zu der Opern Couch stammt von Ulrike Schmid. Und über die Erfahrungen, die sie mit einer entsprechenden Konzert Couch gemacht hat, können Sie auf ihrem wunderbar lesbaren und unterhaltsamen Blog www.orchestrasfan.de nachlesen)