I’m in Southampton this week for five nights performing at the Mayflower Theatre – this is a normal touring week for me. We’re performing three different operas; last night was La Traviata, with a story that wouldn’t be out of place on a TV soap opera. Boy meets girl, girl happens to be a courtesan, girl gives up boy in an act of honour, boy misjudges girl’s intentions, boy then finds out he’s been rather idiotic, and arrives back to see the girl die of TB.
Tonight’s performance is Beatrice and Benedict, Berlioz’s adaptation of the Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing, one with a happy ending. It may sound a little peculiar, but it’s more often than not that somebody dies in opera; I suppose there is more dramatic possibility in the idea of love lost and death rather than a happy ending. However when you perform even one opera where there’s that sort of tear-jerking emotion twice a week, an opera with a happy ending is a bit of a welcome novelty.