17th July 2014
Reviewed by Nicola Flynn
As my opera exposure is very limited (Madame Butterfly circa 2000) I was looking forward to broadening my cultural horizons with an evening at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh to see Cavalleria Rusticana (opera in one act, 1889).
My sister and I arrived at the theatre in good time; time enough to sit in the beautiful bar, take in the surroundings and watch the comings and goings of the capital.
I realised I should have conducted a bit more research prior to the event: whilst confirming the time on the ticket, I noticed it stated Live Streaming from Teatro Antico. We soon understood we were not going to see a live performance, but one streamed from the Taormina Festival in Southern Italy. The Teatro Antico is an Ancient Greek open air theatre situated in Taormina in Southern Italy. We were both quite excited at the prospect of watching the performance in sync with those sitting in the ancient theatre in Italy.
The bell rang, indicating it was time for us to take our seats. We were directed to the upper dress circle; upon entering, we were severely disappointed to see a notice stating that due to technician strike at the theatre, there would not be a live streaming, but instead, a showing of a recording made previously of the Opera.
The recording was projected on to a huge screen which took the place of the stage. The performance started with a lovers embrace; Turridu and Lola’s clandestine affair sets the stage of a tale of deceit, jealousy, love and hatred. Turridu’s wife, Santuzza, confronts her husband about the affair, and when met with an angry denial she reveals the liaison to Lola’s husband, Alfio. The opera closes with Alfio stabbing Turridu and, Santuzza and her mother in law, collapsing in grief. This summary is of course hugely truncated; the opera in one act lasted for 1.5 hours. One could imagine the atmosphere and passion of the music and arias in situ are astounding. The atmosphere some 2000 miles away was somewhat diluted and even more so knowing we were watching a recording rather than a live performance. From an auditory perspective and visually, the ‘recording’ was rather one dimensional. It didn’t sound like there was surround sound and the picture wasn’t very sharp. However the concept of bringing live opera from international festivals is a great way for everyone to enjoy a cultural experience without travelling very far!
This experience hasn’t discouraged me from future operas, quite the opposite. It’s has also planted the seed of visiting the Taormina Antica and perhaps the Taormina festival in the future.
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9FT | 0131 529 6000