Saturday, May 28, 2011

Muckheaps and Madrigals

Two very different theatrical events today...

In the morning we went to The Egg to see a Chinese version of an Australian children's play called Muckheap. It was loosely based on Jack and the Beanstalk so we got the gist. Just two actors, lots of ingenious, recycled props and a good crowd of kids. The music was instrumental versions of The Rolling Stones, The Stranglers and Penguin Cafe Orchestra done flamenco style. Strange, but it worked. 

The evening was odder still. When asked a month ago if I wouldn't mind introducing a concert of madrigals, I naievely said yes, thinking it would be a brief minute job. Turned out that I was required to compere the whole evening, providing historical background and witty repartie to each of the 18 of the songs ranging from 16th Century Italian numbers to the more recent English school. It was actually quite interesting, delving through wikipedia, unearthing facts and figures, familiarising myself with a musical genre I knew very little about.

Anyway, all went well. It was outdoors in the Ambassador's garden with 300 or so people lolling about on the lawn, all very Glyndebourne. The ex-pat choir were all dressed up in DJs and dresses. They were founded 10 years ago and I have to say were top-notch. So I am now able to tell you, as I did the slighlty drunk audience, that Now is the Month of Maying is about 'rolling in the hay', not spring dancing; Matona, mia Mara is positively filthy; and Contrapunto Bestial alla Mente kicks off with "Fa la la, woof woof, hoo, cuckoo; a hunchback is untrustworthy, so is a cripple". In fact half of them seemed to be about sex, the other half animals (though not, thankfully, both). 

Here's some trivia... One of the madrigals was written as late as the 1960s by composers Albert Hammond & Mike Hazlewood, who also wrote The Air that I Breathe (a hit for The Hollies) and get a writing credit for Radiohead's Creep; and Hammond's son is in The Strokes.   

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