Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Candide, London Coliseum

Never has there been an opera that I attended, that was such a roller coaster ride. It provided everything, from a boisterous finale to downright boredom of which they were plenty. The two ladies next to me left during the intermission, and I myself was tempted to leg it. But a quick trip to a cafe (Cafe Nero I believe) next door provided me with a caffeine fix that allowed me to stay awake for the first 1/2 hour of the second act.

The revival of Candide is certainly a unique one. A massive 50s CRT set gracefully sits on stage stunningly in contrast to the Victorian era London Coliseum Theatre, where the play follows two seemingly undead love-ones Candide and Cunegonde in this limited West End run commissioned by the English National Opera. What was possibly an exciting story, soon unfolds itself into an intangible mess. The music were fine, based on the Leonard Bernstein score by the orchestra pit; but the stiffness of the casts and the lack of movement was excruciatingly painful to watch. It was a wonder that the Coliseum was packed (credit crunch my arse) as the soprano Marnie Breckenridge wailed to sets of powerful and witty lyrics, and nice as they are, you may as well be sitting at home with a CD player in hand.

At times the social and religious commentary provided enough humour to keep boredom at bay. Yes, we had Bush, Blair, Putin and all the oil monkeys that leech the world of any possible freedom. We even had a pre-dead Kennedy beamed in high-definition, and the American Dream ripped apart near the end - which I am all for. But what the show lack was subtlety. It was trying too hard, the lack of sophistication was unnerving. Even the highlight of the show: the old lady's story on how she lose one of her arse cheek, I found to be forceful. I did appreciate Candide's liberal use of his revolver, which jolted me a couple of times from slumber.

All in all, despite the great lyrics, wonderful singing and music - Robert Carsen's Candide is a wasted opportunity. A shame as I really did wanted to enjoy it.

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