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Manchester International Festival: Day 15

  • Richard Fair
  • 12 Jul 07, 09:07 AM

As The Cunning Little Vixen was billed as a ‘unique family concert’ I thought I’d take one the family along for the ride. That ride turned out to be forty minutes in the car listening to Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. Loud. “Did he just sing the F word?”, “Yes”, “But I let you go to see them in concert”, “Yes! Thank-you Dad”. What must other parents think of me?

By the time seven o’clock came round my ears were begging me to listen to something a little gentler and so we took our seats in the Bridgewater Hall. “Don’t expect any of that bad language in here, young lady. This is a family film, so let’s sit quietly and watch the little fox at play.” Several killings later, and I knew they were dead as the hens had crosses for eyes, a whisper came into my ear, “This is great”.

What we were watching was the animated tale of The Cunning Little Vixen accompanied by Manchester’s Halle Orchestra playing the score before our very ears. It soothed them with a faultless performance. But there was more to come.

I got the impression from all the advertising that the Cunning Little Vixen was the star of the evening’s performance, but I was wrong. After a short interval we were back in our seats for a wonderful performance of a new piece called Alphabicycle Order. This was a collection of children’s poems by Christopher Reid set to music by Colin Matthews. The Halle were joined on stage by members of the Halle Youth Choir and Cantores Roborienses along with Henry Goodman who narrated several of the poems.

The half hour piece took us on fantastic voyage through the alphabet from Alphabike to Zagzig. The children in the audience loved it. Their parents loved it. I loved it and so did the offspring. Sadly, not for the first time at the Festival, empty seats were aplenty in the Bridgewater Hall. The whole thing was over by nine, and even on a school night I would have thought that they could have managed a packed house, after all, it’s what it deserved.

Week Two
And that got me thinking. Here we are in the middle of the second week of the Festival and a bit of the steam seems to have gone out of it. Monkey is a distant memory and even For All The Wrong Reasons holds some pleasant afterthoughts. But the atmosphere has changed. Even the Festival Pavilion has seemed more subdued this week. Is it Festival fatigue, the weather? Or do we need something on the scale of Monkey to take us through the second week? It does feel like it needs a bit of a poke with a stick.

Perhaps the controversy that’s beginning to surround tonight’s premier of Il Tempo del Postino will spark a bit more excitement for us. If the reports are true, then those that have tickets can expect urinating women and an over stimulated bull. The Manchester International Festival website has gone so far as to publish a Summary of Risk Assessments:
“The Festival has undertaken a comprehensive process of risk assessments to establish that the show can proceed safely.
The Festival and its partners have put the safety and welfare of the people and animals working on this production as the highest priority at all times.
The Risk Assessments involve health and safety experts and an independent vet. They look particularly at ensuring that the show is safe in terms of Public Health & Safety and Animal Welfare..
The animals involved in the show are accompanied at all times by experienced animal handlers with the independent vet in attendance. The people working on the show are fully briefed by their managers about the risks and the safety procedures.”
Fortunately junior is off to see Harry Potter.

While I was sat in the 1830 Warehouse on Tuesday, the more financially affluent members of society were over at the MEN Arena watching Barbara Streisand (or Streetlamps as my spellchecker would prefer). Some paid up to £500 for a ticket. Julia at Notebooks paid considerably less if I’m any judge of where she was sitting - based entirely on the pictures she took. I suspect she had to have a safety harness on.

Sean in the Stalls is a blogger from London who's been up to see the festival. "For £5 you could try a mini portion of strange ice cream, mushy pea sorbet or strawberry and vanilla sundae with olive and leather included."

Comments   Post your comment

Richard, I was one of those lucky ones who only paid £75: on the one hand, I'm not that affluent; on the other, I knew I was going there primarily to listen to her. But I dare say I totally disagree with those who slagged the night off - as the updated post fully explains!


PS - on this picture there is another comment from Alan Rickman's fan:

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