Friday, November 8, 2013


Last night I attended the re-opening of Shanghai Grand Theatre after eight months of renovations. It's been subtley done - like London Southbank Centre's makeover. The event was celebrated by the staging of something unsubtle, an opera: a Hungarian-Chinese co-production of Verdi's Attila. 
Whenever I watch opera (which isn't often), it always seems like a caricature of what an opera 'should be'. Large scenery, large orchestra, large cast, large performers (well, the western ones anyway), large singing, large movements... Larger than life. Except the music, which always seems to me small, in the background, unmemorable. It ought to be the perfect meeting of theatre, music and design but for me it's a bit of a melee. 
But against the odds, I rather enjoyed it, possibly because it was mercifully short - 2 hours, a record? - but also because the cast seemed to really enjoy themselves. And I got it wrong about 'it ain't over til the fat lady sings'. She didn't die, Attila did. And quickly!  

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