The Eaton Diary of London    2001  

Night at the opera

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Saturday, May 26.  

The Opera North company based in Leeds concluded it's London season tonight, so I went along to the Sadler's Well Theatre. Over 22 years Opera North has established itself as 'one of the most imaginative opera companies in Europe' or so the programme claimed, and my evening at their final London performance of "Paradise Moscow" didn't make me doubt the claim.

It was a lively and very enjoyable performance of very accessible music. For me the clever orchestration was a highlight of this light musical comedy by Dmitry Shostakovich based in a recently liberated Moscow. Having a flat in a new high rise housing development was the dream of all the characters. I found myself comparing some of the living conditions presented as quite similar to many London housing estates, and the dream for 'Municipal happiness' is quite illusive and in reality is not to be found through bricks and mortar or through the influx of developers' funds. 

One line of lyrics which stuck with me was sung by a lonely girl who spent her days as a guide in the local museum. She was surrounded by the best of society's monuments to the past, present, and future, but her life was still empty. She sings:

"I'm an island surrounded by an ocean of not a lot"

There have been times when this London experience has shown me how de-personalising big city life can be. This is a city of monuments to man's achievements, but I see people who, I suspect, feel surrounded by an 'ocean of not a lot'. 

A very enjoyable evening.


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Copyright 2001 H Grant Eaton  Contact: