Despite having done this singing malarky for over thirty years now, whenever I go to the theatre I still find myself being taken in by the magic of the proscenium. By which I mean, when I see singers or actors (not that the two are mutually exclusive) leave a scene, rather than visualising them going into the wings and back to their dressing rooms I still get taken in. I do actually imagine them going into the street and climbing into a carriage, or strolling in the streets of Montmartre, or in the case of this Billy Budd, being somewhere else in the school.
Considering the amount of time I’ve spent in the wings, you’d think I would have got the hang of this by now but sadly not. It’s especially odd given that I’m in my dressing room right now, typing this while Billy goes on trial on the stage. The tannoy is belching impassioned music and I’m on my iPad. Well at least I’m being somewhat productive. I could easily have been catapulting squawking birds at grunting pigs, as are half my colleagues right now (those that haven’t already achieved three stars on every level) or playing Scrabble, another favourite time-waster, for me at least, backstage. I think the Novice and Squeak are already propping up the artists’ bar – this theatre being one of the few that has one – as apart from their curtain calls they’re done for the evening. Me, I’ve still got a hanging to do.
So there you are. I know how it really works and yet when I go to, say, Richard lll this summer I really won’t picture Gloucester sitting in his dressing-room doing the crossword for half the play, as he almost certainly will be. He’ll be in his castle, or on his horse, and certainly in another century. He won’t be playing games on his phone. I’m sorry he just won’t. Isn’t theatre wonderful?

Comments (2)

  1. Reply


    Last night I saw and heard you and your colleagues perform Billy Budd. My expectations for this production were high and it certainly didn’t disappoint; in fact it was one of the most moving experiences I had in the opera house in recent years.

    Looking for more information on the internet I came across your blog and thought it would be nice to add a comment. It’s been very interesting for me as a Dutchman to read about your adventures in Amsterdam (also last year with Les Troyens, I was there as well). It made me wonder about things I usually take for granted and even gave me some tips for nice places to have a meal.

    Over the years I’ve been to several productions of DNO with you in the cast and even though I have to cut back on my operatic visits because of the huge increase in ticket prices :-(, I hope to you see you again in the future.


  2. Reply

    Thanks Martin. So glad you enjoyed the show and that the blog has given you some insights!
    I hope I’ll be back but there are changes afoot at DNO and this may be my last production there for the forseeable future. After 13 productions and over 200 performances in the last 20-odd years I can’t complain.

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