Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to do your paper ...

My friend Liz Gloyn from Rutgers has written a piece on presenting a paper at a conference. It's well worth reading, even if you're not a graduate student (the intended audience). I particularly like the emphasis on the conference paper as a performance. This is something that gets forgotten about by many, but something I try to remember; these days I think of the papers I give as first and foremost entertainments.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Orpheus Down Under

So much for my resolution to post to this more regularly ...

Jacques Offenbach's operetta Orphée aux enfers, the source of the most famous music for the Can-Can, has always lent itself to adaptation. I remember seeing some sequences from the 1977 television Orpheus in the Underground, though I don't think I've ever seen it all the way through.

In Unexpected Opera's version, Orpheus Down Under, the action for the second half is relocated to Australia (as the new title rather implies). This had its premiere last night in the Tunbridge Wells Opera House. This building has passed through being a cinema and a bingo hall, and is now, most of the time, a pub. But the interior has been preserved, and it is still capable of putting on shows.

The production itself is rather good. It takes a bit to get going, and the first half is only patchily amusing (though there is a good joke about Venus' husband training for the Paralympics). It's not helped by the fact that the first Act is a bit on the overlong side (which is Offenbach's fault).

But the second half makes up for any problems with the first - funny all the way through, and well-performed. Go and see it - it's on in various venues across the south-east of England until June.

As for the portrayal of the gods and classical mythology - sometimes, there doesn't have to be a deep significance to the way in which a reception is presented. Sometimes it's just fun, and silly, and done for its own sake. And, you know, that's all right.