(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
Ashutosh Khandekar - Editor
From the current issue of Opera Now
What makes a good opera festival? A touch of midsummer madness perhaps? It’s a fine thing to go to the opera in a traditional theatre and marvel in comfort at all that crimson velvet and gilding (or at the glass and polished steel, should you happen to be at one of the many new opera houses that have opened in recent years). Festivals, however, are a chance to think outside the box and bring a touch of eccentricity to the usual rituals of theatre-going. From Roman amphitheatres to exotic hanging gardens, from ruined abbeys to disused barns, or gracious country mansions and floating stages, the very best festivals break opera out of its usual comfort zone and test its limits to the hilt.
Often, the test is directed at the audience as much as at the stage. Many festivals bring the civilised rituals of opera face-to-face with nature in the raw. Whether you’re being soaked by a deluge in an English country garden or sweating your way through a performance in the torrid heat of high summer in Italy, these are all audience-bonding experiences that give opera festivals their distinct atmosphere and personality. Then there are the unexpected ‘special effects’ that come with open-air events, such as the peacocks in London’s Holland Park screeching to outdo the resident diva’s top C, or the rumble of distant thunder adding another layer of drama to opera on the lake in Bregenz. This world of mud and straw, heat and dust may not be what you usually associate with going to the opera; but it’s the unlikely clash of opposites that brings the festival season to life and engenders a tremendous sense of camaraderie among intrepid opera-goers. For some new festival ideas to unusual destinations that you probably haven’t dreamed of yet, take a look inside this issue.
Speaking of thinking outside the box, I’m delighted to introduce our new digital edition of Opera Now, available with dynamic content which links you to clips of performances and interviews – so next time one of our critics takes issue with a wobbly contralto or an out-of-tune tenor, you don’t have to take their word for it. You’ll be able to see and hear it for yourself. Details of how to access our digital pages are given below: enjoy!
Opera Now is available as an interactive digital magazine from pocketmags.com, iTunes and GooglePlay – read on your iPad, iPhone, Android device, Kindle Fire or computer. App FREE, single issues £3.99