Sunday, July 13, 2008

Show in Barcelona

This morning was a welcome meeting for the group followed by a couple of rehearsals for the singers. I attended the welcome meeting to pick up my information pack, but ducked-out of the rehearsal; I was happy to wait until they performed it on stage to hear the Festival Anthem. Having some time on my hands also allowed me to upload yesterday’s blog entry and photos. After the rehearsal we went in for a late lunch of standard resort-hotel buffet cuisine and an hour or so later met up to board our buses into Barcelona.

When our guide on the coach told us some of the superlatives that had been used about the venue for the show, the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, I was rather sceptical. When we got into the auditorium though, I changed my mind. I don’t know if I have the architectural background to describe it properly, but my impression was of a fusion of Catalan/Basque, Gaudi and Classical styling. There were ceramic fragment mosaics everywhere, the ceiling had a huge stained glass skylight which came down to a pendant central sun motif, there were full-size, full-relief winged horses flying out of the pillars on the upper balcony and the proscenium arch, such as it was, formed the meeting of sculpted riders and soldiers(?) on one side and a forest filled with the flowers of May on the other.

The stage itself was decorated with part-painted and part-relief sculptures of musicians looking down on the performers; all surmounted by a large organ and curtained galleries.

As there were four other choirs with numbers to rehearse, plus the combined choruses to rehearse the Anthem, ‘Les Flors de Maig’, stage-time was strictly limited and almost as soon as the rehearsal was over, we had to clear to let the public in.

The show went fairly well. Personally I think a couple of the earlier choirs were a little samey; a couple of long programs of similar music. The Bulgarian Boys Choir though had a fairly short repertoire which they performed beautifully – with a vocal precision that should make us weep! Our own slot went off fairly well; the audience seemed to like both the classical numbers and the more modern ones; they started applauding as soon as we started singing ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’! They were a bit bemused by ‘I Feel Pretty’ though (probably not a song with which they are that familiar) and given that the choreography for the number was so ragged, I would rate it the low-point of the set.

After the show, it was a fairly swift turnaround; we were out of the Palau in short order and after a bit of socialising in the forecourt we snaked our way back towards the coach, pausing only to rush into a small shop on the way and buy them out of cheap (and nasty!) baguettes for the journey home. Applause and congratulations from audience stragglers as we walked away from the venue!

Most of the chorus (those who hadn’t bought baguettes) hurried down to the dining room as soon as we hit the hotel as we had been promised a cold dinner. Having seen that ilk before I wasn’t surprised when it turned out to be plates of cold luncheon meat and processed cheese (turning a slightly funny colour for having been left out so long.) I supplemented my gin-and-tonic with a quarter of one of the sliced melons they had laid out for dessert. Afterwards there was a bit of a gathering around the pool as beer and cocktails were consumed by all.

It was all fairly tame stuff until Soon N arrived in the bar. Soon likes costumes; every week at rehearsal he comes as a different character, typically a uniform of some sort. This evening he was in full Leather Master drag. I didn’t see his entrance into the bar myself, but I know there were plenty of non-chorus guests left over from the earlier flamenco show. I am told that the expressions on some of their faces were priceless.

The show didn’t stop there though; he had brought a studded leather dog collar and lead which he attached to Stephen B (one of our newer Baritones) for a while. Due to a defunct battery though, I was on my way up to our room to pick up my other camera when the evening’s highlight took place. After letting Stephen off the lead, he then took Alisdair L, our illustrious Vice-Chair, for a walk around the hotel pool on all fours! It seems everyone in the hotel – except me – got photos of that…

After that things petered out; people hung around a while but after they closed the bar around 1am the remainder drifted off to bed.

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