Amsterdam


Peering between clumps of terugtrapremmen in Amsterdam, it was a thrill to see posters showing some familiar names, including my own and that of Blond Eckbert. My opera was featuring in a production by the Dutch National Opera Academy. In very warm weather I borrowed a bike with actual brakes and cycled carefully through the old docks area to see the show at Amsterdam Conservatorium.

This was a production at a very high postgraduate level. I increasingly feel such stagings represent the ideal situation for ‘revivals’ of recent modern operas, with talented performers who are as yet mostly unscathed by the ridiculous demands of the profession, receiving ample preparation time (although I’m sure those involved would always wish for more.) As audience, there’s often, as here at DNOA, a relaxed but curious public who haven’t had to part with oodles of cash to gain admittance, and anyway feel supportive of an educational enterprise.

Robert Chevara’s production was also an ideal for me, totally understanding of the content, but very simple in its visual resources. The singers had been prepared by the distinguished Dutch conductor Ed Spanjaard, while these performances were conducted by a British postgrad, Fergus McAlpine. This production used a 10-instrument orchestral reduction of the (1994) original score, which I made just over 10 years ago. Making the reduction was a heavy task (undertaken originally at the behest of John Fulljames and The Opera Group) but I’m so glad I did it, as it has since enabled numerous productions in sympathetic surroundings.

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JUDITH WEIR

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© Judith Weir, 2020