Thursday, 24 June 2010
Paul Nilon's pensive interpretation of the title role worked well. Idamante (sung by Robert Murray) was emotionally torn. Illia (Sarah Tynan) was not bad, though not remarkable. Emma Bell's Elettra was fantastic - with high drama and vocal agility. Finally I thought the videos (by Fifty Nine Productions) worked really well. While it was obvious they were projections on stage, they were really effective in delivering the maritime / tempest feel to an otherwise stylish but plain seaside resort set.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Anna Netrebko was the glamorous / tragic Manon whose vocal colours and strength effectively conveyed the full range of emotions of her character. She was well matched by Vittorio Grigolo as des Grieux - whose voice had a wonderful tenorial ring, sang with real emotions and complete with handsome looks. The two brought the house down at the end of the evening. Pappano was his usual self - ensuring a tight and responsive sound from the pit. Go see it!
I have been meaning to go to Il polpo in Soho for a long time but somehow didn't manage until today. Well the menu has lots of traditional and familiar Venetian dishes - fritto misto, risi e bisi and fegato veneziana. And there were some dishes that took advantage of seasonal English produce - asparagus with anchovy butter and Parmesan cheese. All in relatively small portions which was great as one could sample many different dishes. The staff was relaxed and friendly. Definite a place to revisit.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
I have never seen Constantinos Carydis in the pit before, and his
enthusiasm and big gestures kept the orchestra moving and the ensemble
together. And the horse, donkey, abseillers and acrobats all added to
the grand opera feel.
Monday, 7 June 2010
Though I was not totally convinced by the beginning of the first act. It seemed there was either insufficient drive from Pietro Spagnoli (as Don Alfonso), or the production got stuck - the pace seemed slow and there was not enough build up to the subsequent melodrama. I think the set worked well - but could see why others thought it's a bit dated. The second act picked up a lot - somehow everything geled better. I wonder how long before the Festival decides to retire it.
Sunday, 6 June 2010
A whole bunch of us had just done a gig at ExCel in London. It was a warm and humid day. We were hungry for something wholesome. Luckily one of us had local knowledge of an allegedly very good Vietnamese restaurant in the area. Well, Cafe East was not easy to find (here is the Google map reference) but the journey was well worth it.
We got there and were asked to wait for 5-10 minutes - always a reassuring sign on a Saturday evening. The interior of the place was functional bordering utilitarian (see pic below). However, the clientele was mostly South East Asian (another reassuring sign) and the noise was a slurpy and happy one.
The rice-pasta rolls were good, and so were the sliced sausages. The true test of any Vietnamese restaurant, however, is still Phở - rice noodles with thin slices of rare beef in a clear beef soup. Well mine turned up looking good (see below). The soup was clear. The smell was excellent - a beefy aroma scented with basil and spices. And it was very good - the noodles were al dente, the beef was succulent and the soup was tasty without being overpowering. I happily slurped up the entire bowl and drank the soup (and didn't feel thirsty later - another sign of a good soup).