Saturday, July 12, 2008

Opening Night of the Elora Festival

My love for the Elora Festival was all summed up in the final curtain bows for last night's performance of Handel's Solomon. Conductor Noel Edison first motioned for the soloists to take their bows, then key members of the orchestra, then the whole orchestra, and finally the choir. The audience applauded enthusiastically for everyone, but when the choir rose from their seats we roared.

It's not often that I feel a sense of community in an audience. At the opera there are lots of opera lovers but everyone keeps interrupting the performance to clap and there are a bunch of dolts who cough without muffling the sound. At Stratford the audience tends to laugh at things that aren't funny and they applaud the first time an actor steps on the stage who they've seen on TV. On Broadway half the audience feels the need to check their cell phones during the performance. Everyone these days seems to give standing ovations to everything.

But at Elora I feel at one with the crowd. Year after year this amazing thing happens for a few weeks in the summer, and it's like nothing else the rest of the year. It's the quality of the choir and conductor, the musical choices and the acoustics in the Gambrel Barn and church venues, but it's also the ambiance - milling around outside the barn with performers and audience, seeing familiar faces in the choir and volunteer ranks, getting distracted by baby racoons during the performance, watching the sun set through the open barn doors, driving home on back roads. It's just like nothing else.

Also, Noel Edison never lets us down. Last night featured a lot of great music, but the performance by Soprano Karina Gauvin stole the show. And then there was the choir. I'm eternally frustrated that my musical knowledge is too inadequate to let me understand what I appreciate about music. Noel seems to pick choir members with distinctive and beautiful voices, and individual voices emerge from the choral sound for a phrase, quickly slipping back into the mix. It creates a magical, elusive quality to the music. I just can't imagine anything more satisfying.


1 comment:

Christian Conservative said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed my wife's performance! She's a member of the choir.

You'll have to keep your eyes open for me if your a regular, as I'll be around. ;-)

(not all of the BTers are cultural neanderthals...)