|Assassination of Riccardo|
Illustration August Pollak, Wikipedia
On Friday afternoon I received the following email from Rae Piper, one of the artistic directors of Chantry Dance:
"Apologies for the late notice, but we have just been given 2 tickets for the general dress rehearsal of 'Un Ballo In Maschera' to be held at the Royal Opera House on Monday 15th at 11am-2:30pm. If you would like these tickets, you are very welcome to them - it would be our pleasure to give them to you. Please let me know if you would like them, and I will arrange to get them to you."I did not need to be asked twice. Opportunities like this don't grow on trees and I know a good thing when I see one. I accepted with alacrity and then rang one of my friends to see whether she was free to come to London with me.
My friend and I had seen an HDTV transmission of the Met's production from New York at the National Media Museum which we both enjoyed. She also knew Chantry Dance having also seen Paul Chantry and Rae Piper in Halifax a few weeks ago (see "The Happy Prince in Halifax" 21 Nov 2014). We knew they were assisting Lucy Burge with the choreography and that they would also be in the show.
We got up very early yesterday morning and set off for Luton Parkway just after 06:00. Although I live in Yorkshire I do most of my work in London and have tried every way of getting there. Unless you book well in advance trains are expensive and you have to allow at least 90 minutes to drive from Holmfirth, park and pick up the ticket from one of those irritating ticket machines with a perpetual queue. The number of trains I have missed waiting in the queue at Sheffield station does not bear thinking about. It also costs an arm and a leg to park by the station. I have found the best way is to drive to Luton Parkway (which usually takes no more than 2 and a half hours) where one can park all day for £3 and then take the Thameslink into St Pancras. Had the day gone according to plan we would have reached Luton no later than 09:30 and Covent Garden well before 11:00.
Alas, the day did not go according to plan. We found ourselves in a horrendous snarl-up outside Nottingham which delayed us by 2 hours. The result was that we rolled up at the Opera House late and had to watch the first part of the opera on a monitor. However, we were able to take our seats after the interval and were treated to a brilliant show. There were excellent performances by Joseph Callleja as Riccardo, Dimitri Hvorostovsky as Renato, Ludmyla Monastryska as Amelia and indeed the whole cast. Although their's was a non-singing role it was good to see Paul and Rae on stage. We were particularly pleased to see them because they had not been well the day before and feared that they might miss the rehearsal. Happily they had recovered enough yesterday morning to soldier on and, like the rest of the cast, they did very well. The music conducted by Daniel Oren was magnificent. Our tickets were in the stalls circle so we were very close to the orchestra. The sets and costumes were beautiful. It was every bit as good as the Met's production. We congratulate those who have been fortunate enough to get tickets. You are in for a treat, folks.
After the rehearsal I returned to chambers. Tomorrow is our Christmas party which I shall miss because it clashes with the Huddersfield Choral Society's public performance of Handel's Messiah. We therefore held an impromptu party to which I invited friends from the barre as well as the bar. Paul and Rae did not pick up their Christmas card upon which I had written an invitation but Paul Kelly and David Murley of MurleyDance were able to come. Over wine and mince pies it was interesting to discover just how much my world has in common with theirs. As I discovered when I took to the stage the part of my brain which engages when I go into court kicked in to play when I found myself on stage (see "The Time of my Life" 28 June 2014).
I am a great fan of both Chantry Dance and MurleyDance. I owe Chantry Dance a great debt of gratitude for coaxing me on stage (see "Chantry Dance Company's Sandman and Dream Dance" 10 May 2014). Had I not been in Dream Dance I would not have put my name forward for the Northern Ballet Academy end of year show. That was one of the greatest moments of my life and I owe a lot of other people - notably my teachers Annemarie Donoghue, Fiona Noonan and everyone else who has taught me for advancing me to that point - and Mel, Dave Wilson and the folks in Chelmsford for encouraging me to have a go.