Not since witnessing Le Grand Macabre in the Adelaide Festival ten (10!) years ago have I been so utterly unable to describe something, but no less eager to sing its praises. The centrepiece of this year's Festival, Requiem, is a mind-blowing feat of such epic proportions, one has to ponder the sanity of the mind that conceived it. I was extremely lucky to catch the dress rehearsal last night.
Confession: I am NOT the kind of person that enjoys art galleries. I just never "get" it. After twenty minutes, I'm in the cafe waiting for my friends that read the plaques and stand there holding their glasses saying, "mmm." I couldn't help but be reminded of this experience during Requiem. It would have been very easy for me to roll my eyes at the pretentiousness of some of the goings-on (honestly, I thought some of the imagery was a little on-the-nose, and that's if I even interpreted it "correctly"), but before I had time to react in that way, I was totally blindsided by yet another spectacular visual treat; they seemed to be waiting around every corner. A number of times I caught myself thinking, 'if you'd shown me what the stage looks like now at the beginning of the show, I'd never have believed it was the same theatre, let alone part of the same production.' Other times, I honestly just couldn't believe what I was seeing. (Movie buffs: it is 'Midsommar: The Opera')
The soloists' voices were made of caramel. The ASO played stunningly, with the unity, precision and sensitivity of a small chamber ensemble. The State Opera Chorus sang the absolute pants off it (literally). Their intonation was exquisite and the crisp diction clapped right to the back wall. I've sung the Mozart Requiem before; it's an incredibly difficult sing, but I'm glad I didn't have to do *that* during the fugue.
It's a shame that tickets are so prohibitively expensive, but if you can afford it, I really recommend taking a chance on it. Even if you hate it, I guarantee you'll never have seen anything like it, and never will again.
Requiem was confusing, bizarre, surreal, frightening, sinister and beautiful. I have no idea what it was about or what was going on and I loved it.