Thursday, July 09, 2009

La Bore De Loin

Level of conviction in own genius: 6.8
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 2
Watching: 'Psychoville' on BBC2
Hair Day: Needs drastic cut-and-paste action before photoshoot tomorrow

Celebrated our second whole wedding anniversary by going to the Coliseum to see the ENO do Kaija Saariaho's 'L'Amour de Loin'. It's very rare I go to the opera, mostly because I don't like people singing all the time when they could be speaking... BUT I have liked Saariaho's delicate, exquisitely orchestrated works in the past and was bang up for it. The opening was a fabulously sensual feast of theatrical headiness, with a huge silky canvas sliding over the audience's heads onto the stage, oversized staging and opulent costumes. Oh yes, and aerial acrobatics from six great performers who writhed and twisted on hanging sheets to represent the three main character's spirits. But from then on, it was mostly downhill: the opera soon transpired to comprise the most dull story ever (high concept is too interesting to describe it): prince falls in love with noble lady he's never seen (that's the first half), he eventually travels to her, but falls ill and dies as they declare their love. Oh, and she, having been nothing more than a vacuous object, decides she's lost the love of her life, curses God for two minutes, and then - of course! -becomes a nun. Over two and a half hours, and with the principles singing the most achingly banal language possible - "'My heart aches for her', 'Oh that is a shame','It is like a burning flame', 'Oh dear, a burning flame'" - it was one big frustrating yawn. I kept hoping there'd be a few explosions or swordfights or something, but no, just interminable recit-like passages going on and on with very little motivic writing or aria-like stuff or anything. The lovely staging was nothing more than desperate padding for such a black hole of an opera; the poor singers often had to stand for twenty minutes looking ponderous. We saw plenty of friends and faces: Mikhail and Uriel, the juicettes, E.Laine, old Yorkie pal James Williams, the newsreader Julia Somerville and Kaija herself, floating gracefully around in red, oblivious to the audience's dark mutterings.

Still, on the plus side, it was actually great going to the opera and it makes me want to see more! Picking and choosing carefully of course. It also makes me realise my own music-theatre bent is freaking genius and should be pursued immediately. It's not about writing operas that just anyone can bellow out with the audience struggling to hear the words thorough the fog of their vibrato, but using idiosyncratic voices and mixing up styles. Mikhail will be doing it soon with his new opera commission and one day he and then I WILL rule the opera world and juice will star!!! Ha.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A month of Sundays

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Reading: 'The Whole Woman' by Germaine Greer. Am getting quite aggressive in the process.
Hair day: ungratifyingly conventional-looking

Have had gigs for three Sundays in a row, to keep me busy. first up was Metamorphic's road trip to SevenArts in Leeds, where we did two mammoth sets and tried out a few new tunes, including Laura's lovely arrangement of 'Hyperballad' which allows me to do my most uber-wispy voice and do some sea-breath loops. Last week the intrepid DOLLYman were at the Spice of Life, bang in the centre of town, for a fantastically-enjoyable set - not least because we unveiled our new secret weapon: a real live DRUMMER in the form of James' lovely Ozzie mate Pat. He'd only come in for two brief rehearsals so it's early days but, WOW. It actually makes us sound like a real band. Ha ha. Well, he did give us a real boost, and we went down a storm, with me just proud I could stand up straight in my new black and green zigzag heels bought on a whim on the way there without my knees buckling. Most fun was Lucy's newish one 'Juliet Archer Nearly Killed Me', about her near-death nut allergy experience where the Dollies basically saved her from a fate worse than death: Homerton Hospital. The number involves a spot of heavy rock and squealy improv which I added to by screaming apopletically and making lots of avant-garde vomiting noises. YES. I signed an autograph at the end, which is a first, but not sure it really counts when given to an extremely drunk and confused German chap...

Last night it was Metamorphic again, with bandleader Laura's husband Craig's Moose Factory night going all out with a mammoth 12-hour all-dayer of experimental and improvised music. I missed alt-female music chums E.LAINE and Roshi, but caught a spot of very funky and adventurous Porpoise Corpus before we were on. After us came terrifying Norwegian noisenik Stian Westerhus, who had a rack of effects so huge and complicated he probably could have manouevered a spaceshuttle with it, and who attacked his electric guitar with such angry ear-ripping venom he sent me scuttling out of the room for cover. We caught a bit of Hot Head Show, a sort of experimental funk trio with no tops on and came back for wonderful punk-jazz lot Fulborn Teversham, headed by Alice Grant, who is one-and-a-half notches more cheekboned and cool than me, featuring scary Pete Wareham who made his alto sax sound like a fluttering trumpet, and of course backed by Seb Rochford, the only man to harbour a whole other ecosystem in the form of his hairdo. I am ridiculously starstruck by Seb, which is daft as I've been in contact with him about doing a DOLLY/Teversham gig and he is as nice as pie. He's just such a big scenester. So I just about managed to go up and say hello and not fall over myself or look like a complete fool in the process. Last up was the quite incredible Bilbao Syndrome, who with their quite brilliant white jeans/white polo-neck/mirrored RayBans-look appear to be a crew of futuristic anarchic surgeons, who probably tear through the universe cruising for alien organs to harvest. Instead of that the main band stand impassively at the back playing very difficult metal while singer Andrew Plummer, with the rubbery physicality of Jim Carrey on acid, made noises like Tom Waits playing John Hurt in the memorable scene from 'Alien'. It was very cool. And gave me nightmares.

This week, and last, and the next and in fact any spare moment I get this summer I will be working on the 45-min soundtrack for 'Beginning With Blobs', Kazzum's production for 4-8 year-olds touring in the autumn. It is a huge job, both exciting and slightly gulp-making. Updates to come...