It’s not all clubbing and possums around here: introducing Bigshinything’s highbrow culture correspondent
If anyone asks me why I live in London, I always say, “For the culture, darling, for the culture”. Unfortunately my life usually revolves around working till I drop occasionally punctuated by wine fuelled loiterings in a pub. Recently, however, I managed to spend a couple of weeks soaking up culture enough to last a year.
Wagner was the major motif for this cultural overdose, with the added bonus of a visit from Father and Sister – long overdue and acting as the catalyst for the other events. Although the trip was organised a year in advance I made the significant sacrifice of giving them the two tickets allocated my “Friend of Covent Garden” status. With hawk-like concentration and swooping tactics I managed to get returns for all performances except the all important Walkyrie featuring Domingo as Siegmund. Undaunted, I queued for hours outside the ROH for the privilege of a daily return. (Note to anyone who queues for day return tickets: If the person in front of you asks if it’s okay for her friend to join her in the queue the answer is No. However, Karma made a brief visit and allocated me the next return two minutes after they got the last of the day release tickets – and a much better seat it was too. Ha!)
As an opera lover, I am amazed at how infrequently I manage to get myself to the ROH or ENO. Perhaps it’s a bit extreme to do no opera for 7 years and then cram 20 hours into 1 week – and since I thought I’d not be able to get tickets for the performance I also went to the rehearsals. Mmmm. 40 hours of opera in the space of 3 weeks. But absolutely worth it. Not for the fainthearted, what with all the naked rhinemaidens and incest, but a glorious celebration of some of the world’s most debated music. And the lights. My god the lights.
Not sufficiently sated with this mammoth Wagner-fest, I felt honour bound to offer my family an insight into all this culture I supposedly drown myself in on a regular basis. We went walking in Kew Gardens and admired the Henry Moore. I can recommend this to anyone as a fantastic day out – and if you arrive by 11:40 sign yourself onto the free guided tour.
We followed this up with a performance by Einaudi and Friends – and my, what friends he has. A real treat to hear Ballake Sissoko on the kora, and Djivan Gasparyan on the diduk.
All fired up with the washes of emotive sounds from one of the leading minimilists of our time, we hotfooted over to the Barbican for a little Sibelius. Nothing like Sibelius to rouse the blood. Throw in an entirely unexpected debut performance of Saarioho’s Quatro Instants with an inspired rendition by Karita Mattila and you have an evening of glorious culture which deserves extended wallowing.
And in amongst all this opera, symphony and art? Trundling over to nearby Peckham to attend the “Fall into Place” art event: an unexpected experience I am convinced could only happen in London. Housed in an unassuming terraced house on a quiet residential street accessed through the ground floor window, this innovative celebration of art and music was great fun. Unfortunately, I timed it badly to coincide with a non-musical half hour, but after a slightly ungainly entrance, and possibly more literal interpretation of falling into place than was wise, I had a jolly wander through the rooms. I particularly liked Alice White’s portraits in the main room, and the bathroom decorations.
All in all, a couple of weeks to remember. I live in London for the culture you know, darling.