Boris Godunov

I attended the dress rehearsal for “Boris Godunov” at the Royal Opera House – it rates alongside with watching paint dry. We are opera lovers and have supported a large number of tenors and baritones in their performances. And have been to many rehearsals and master classes. This, however, required stamina as the director, Richard Jones, spent most of the afternoon leaping on and off the stage instructing the chorus to flap their arms in a particular way, and torque their bodies just so. It lasted three hours in a chilly amphitheater.

I thought Jones’ outbursts awfully unnecessary as he interrupted the singing, which is why we were there in the first place. Bryn Terfel looked as if he were about to either leave for a tea break, or collapse with fatigue since he is portraying Boris. He finally went into a kind of trance. “Boris Gudanov” is rather static anyway, and the rehearsal convinced me yet again that in their zeal to elicit the interest of potential donors, they weren’t really offering much to inspire us.

Mind you, I was invited some years ago to watch Simon O’Neill, a fine Heldentenor, from New Zealand, have a run-up to full performance in a private hall with his coach. What an experience, listening to a great voice (and man) being put through paces by a top voice teacher and pianist. And they gave us two of the props to sit on, which were giant golden thrones.

Kaaren Hale

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